The Dangers of Driving in the Teenage Years

Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers. According to the CDC, nearly 2,000 teens died in the United States in 2010, and their crashes also killed more than 3,000 passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers.
Credit Digitized Chaos on Flickr Creative Commons

After a series of fatal accidents a few years ago, Connecticut passed distracted driving laws aimed at keeping teen drivers safe. Since the first kid got behind the wheel of a car, it’s been a challenge for parents and law enforcement.

Car accidents are the single biggest cause of death for teens... the CDC says that 16-19 year olds are more likely to get in a car accident than at any other age. They’re more likely to speed, underestimate dangerous situations, or use their seat belts. 

But it’s not entirely their fault. Scientists say a teenager’s brain isn’t fully developed until around age 25...leaving teens less able to reason, develop control over their impulses, and make sound judgments.

There are things we can do to help teens learn to drive safely, like following the laws that restrict teens from activities that pose the greatest danger...such as driving with friends, or late at night. We can teach parents the risks, and how to prevent behaviors that lead to accidents, even if that means taking away the car keys.

This hour, we talk to a dad who lost his son in a car accident seven years ago, and is using his experience to help others.


  • Tim Hollister - Environmental and land use lawyer and the author of Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving, a byproduct of nationally recognized blog, From Reid’s Dad.
  • Chief Paul Melanson - Farmington, Connecticut Chief of Police
  • Garry Lapidus - Director of the Injury Prevention Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center