WESTWOOD, Mass. (WPRI) — The number of Massachusetts traffic fatalities involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 has reached a 14-year peak, according to a new analysis from AAA Northeast.
AAA Northeast counted 49 people killed in crashes involving teen drivers in 2022, which it states is the first time that number has passed 40 in over a decade and the highest since 56 people were killed in 2008.
This mirrors a similar trend nationwide: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) motor vehicle crash data shows 5,088 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 involved in fatal crashes in 2021, which is the highest number reported since 2009.
“Teen driver crashes affect everybody on the road,” AAA Northeast’s Mark Schieldrop said. “Parents and caregivers play a critical role in making sure young drivers learn in a safe environment.”
In Rhode Island, crashes are trending upward across all demographics, according to NHTSA data and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT). RIDOT said in a social media post that it has counted 61 traffic fatalities so far in 2023, which is up from only 39 at this time last year.
“It seems like there is a constant drumbeat of horrific crashes [in Rhode Island],” Schieldrop told 12 News. “It’s very troubling.”
Oct. 15-21 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. AAA Northeast offered the following tips for parents when talking to their teenagers about safe driving practices:
- Wear your seatbelt: Teens model parents’ behaviors, and wearing a seatbelt is the best protection you can give yourself in the event of a crash. Unfortunately, more than half of teen drivers or passengers who were killed in crashes in Massachusetts last year weren’t wearing their seatbelts.
- Set limits on other passengers: Research shows the risk of a fatal crash dramatically increases when teen passengers accompany a teen driver. Having a parent or guardian in the car decreases that risk.
- Sign a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement: Aim to lay ground rules for your teen driver that exceed the Junior Operator restrictions.