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Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Summer 2010 Download Newsletter pdf
[2.7 MB, 12 pgs.]

Summer 2010 | Vol. 12 | No. 4

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Study Shows Nighttime Driving Most Dangerous to Teens

The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) recently issued a report examining national statistics for nighttime fatal crashes. Federal traffic fatality data from 1999 to 2008 showed that although overall traffic deaths are declining, the proportion of fatal crashes at night has increased – especially for inexperienced teen drivers.

The new publication: Shedding light on the nighttime driving risk: An analysis of fatal crashes under dark conditions in the U.S., 1999-2008, reports that the ten-year increase in nighttime fatal crashes for 16- to 19-year-old drivers was greater than for drivers age 20 and older. The report notes that driving at night is the most common crash-causing danger that teenage drivers may face, but few teens are aware of the added risk.

While alcohol has contributed to an increase in nighttime fatal crashes involving drivers age 20 and older, this is not the case for teenage drivers, suggesting that other factors are contributing to the trend of increased nighttime crashes for teens. The growing prevalence of teens using cell phones while driving is singled out as a likely culprit.

Fatigue may also contribute to the problem. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average teen needs nine hours of sleep but gets only seven. Additionally, driving at night presents visibility challenges caused by dark conditions. Lack of experience driving under such conditions may lead to the increased likelihood of a crash.

Researchers conclude that because so few teens are aware of the nighttime driving risks, efforts to reduce the number of nighttime fatal crashes will be challenging unless teens, parents and other influencers are made aware of this danger.

The full report is available online at:

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