12 September 2008


Jim Rink (313) 336-1513

Michigan’s graduated driver licensing laws are among the best in the country, resulting in a dramatic decline in deaths and injuries since they were enacted in 1996. However, AAA believes that these laws can be further strengthened to help prevent even more deaths and injuries among teen drivers and their passengers.

A significant number of teen crashes in Michigan this spring and summer -- including a fatal crash this week in Macomb County -- have lawmakers taking a second look at legislation that would place restrictions on the number of passengers that can ride with a teen driver. House Bill 4151 would limit the number of teen passengers to one. AAA strongly supports this bill.

“According to a March 2008 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when teenage drivers transport passengers there is a greatly increased crash risk, with greater risk associated with more passengers,” said Jack Peet, Community Safety Services manager for AAA Michigan. “In fact, when there are multiple passengers, the crash risk is 3 to 5 times greater.”

A recent analysis from AAA finds that crashes involving teen drivers ages 15 to 17 cost American society more than $34 billion annually in medical expenses, lost work, property damage, quality of life loss and other related costs in 2006.

“The impact of a teen crash extends beyond the emotional tragedies and physical injury at the crash scene, with costs that can extend to employers, families, the government and society overall,” said Peet. ”These economic figures provide one more reason for legislators to improve graduated driver licensing laws in their states.”

New research by AAA shows an alarmingly high number of teens admit to engaging in very risky behavior behind the wheel. Some of these behaviors – like driving under the influence – are problems the safety community has battled for years. Others – like text messaging while driving – are new behaviors. They all pose a threat to road users and must be corrected by teens, parents and safe driving educators.

For additional information on teen driving visit AAA.com/safety.