LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – According to the Zebra Group, which evaluates insurance information, while the roads can be a dangerous place for drivers, teens bear the highest risk of road-related accidents. They report that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States, resulting in over one-third of all deaths.

What’s more, 40% of teens think driving is scary – which could mean they do not have the confidence to properly handle stressful or complex driving situations. That said, some states are more dangerous than others when evaluating teen risk while driving – and according to their survey, Michigan has come out at the top of that list.

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The Zebra Group came to that conclusion after analyzing teen driving data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Census Bureau, and FBI, as well as the average teen insurance rates by state.

Their analysis showed that Michigan was found to be the most dangerous state for teen drivers and has the third-highest monthly insurance premium for teens in the country. Risky driving behaviors like speeding and distracted driving contribute to unsafe driving conditions when teenagers take the wheel.

The analysis showed Michigan to be the the frontrunner for the most dangerous place for teen drivers – and with its high teen insurance premiums, DUI rate and motor fatality rate, it’s not hard to conclude why. Michigan also has the lowest minimum entry age for drivers, at only 14 years old. These factors are likely behind the reason Michigan has the third most costly insurance premium for teens in the country, with an average of $583/month.

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With dangerous driving times ahead because of summer vacation, American Automobile Association (AAA) is urging parents to set driving rules for their kids and asking teens to be more careful. Adrienne Woodland, AAA spokeswoman says that more than 30% of national deaths involving teenage drivers happen during a period called the “Deadliest 100 Days,” a time that falls between Memorial Day and Labor Day. She adds, “Summer is historically a dangerous time for teen drivers. Once school is out, teens will spend more time on the road, often driving with friends at odd hours of the day and night. Because of their inexperience, teens are more susceptible to dangerous driving behaviors – like speeding, driving distracted, and not wearing a safety belt.”

AAA encourages parents to supervise their teens to practice driving in a variety of conditions including inclement weather, busy interstates, and at night – and teaching defensive driving skills, the anticipation of potential risks by constantly scanning the road for hazards.

AAA says that per mile driven, teenage drivers ages 16 to 19 are almost three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers who are age 20 and older. Nationally, an average of 2,108 teenagers are involved in deadly crashes every year.

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In Michigan, to combat distracted driving, lawmakers passed legislation to expand their distracted driving laws, which will become law on June 30th. The bill package includes not allowing drivers to “hold or use a mobile electronic device” while driving which includes sending or receiving a phone call or text message; watching, recording or sending a video or reading or posting on a social networking site.

New legislation, parental involvement and education are keys to stop more deadly crashes associated with teen driving like the crash that happened in Bay County on Saturday, May 20th around 3 a.m. in the morning which killed one Hemlock teenager and left three others hospitalized. The vehicle, a GMC Sierra, left the roadway and crashed into a water-filled ditch and driveway embankment after the group was heading home from a party north of Bay City. Police think speed and alcohol contributed to the crash and the investigation is ongoing.

In Dearborn, after responding to several accidents involving high school students, the police issued a Traffic Safety Alert. They posted on their Facebook page, “Attention high school seniors! As the end of the school year is quickly approaching, the Police Department is encouraging you to please drive responsibly. Today, we responded to several vehicle crashes due to poor driving habits displayed by high school seniors. We have a zero tolerance policy for unsafe driving, and we will issue traffic citations and impound vehicles when appropriate.  These pictures are from a vehicle crash today involving high school seniors. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries. Please drive safely and adhere to Dearborn’s Traffic Safety laws.”

According to the NHTSA, speeding is a factor in 28% of all fatal crashes that involved teen drivers. They also report that 16% of 15- to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2018 had been drinking alcohol.

Additionally, the CDC reports that 43% of high school students admit to not always wearing a seatbelt, 17% of high school students reported riding with a drinking driver and 39% of teens have texted or emailed while driving.

Teens aren’t the only ones with bad driving habits though. Michigan State Police data on traffic deaths for 2021, hit above 1,100, which marked the most traffic fatalities in Michigan since 2005’s 16-year high of 1,129 deaths.

Nationally, there were 46,000 road deaths in 2022, according to the National Safety Council (NSC) which was a 22% rise on pre-pandemic levels, with almost 55% of those crashes caused by stoned or drunk drivers.

Distracted driving looks to be the culprit in another vehicle accident that happened on May 24th. Going viral this week was a video of a Florida driver in Georgia who struck a tow truck at full speed. With the ramp lowered and the driver not slowing down or swerving to avoid it, the driver launched into the air in what media outlets are calling “Dukes of Hazzard-style.” After flying through the air and rolling several times, the driver, somehow, lived through the whole experience after traveling about 120 feet before striking another car on the highway and coming to a stop.