Teen Driving Accidents Increasing

Pueblo County and Pueblo West have had a recent increase in teen accidents. In Pueblo West, Colorado 24% of the population, United States Census Bureau, are teenagers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, CDC.  Proven strategies can improve the safety of beginner drivers.

Teenagers are the most likely age group to be involved in an accident, CDC. Colorado requires that adolescents take a Driver’s Ed Program course before the permit and then complete 60 hours of driving after their permit, along with a Behind-The-Wheel course before getting their license.

 16 and 17- year-old drivers have a 50% increased  likelihood of getting in an accident  Colorado Department of Transportation. 1/3 of all crashes involving 16-19 year old drivers had alcohol in the mix, Colorado Department of Transportation. 15-year-old driver Kamea Arguello says, “I don’t like to drive that often, I’m scared I’ll crash and I’m still new.” For new teen drivers crash risk is heightened during the first months of licensure, and research shows that the crash rate per mile driven for new drivers is 1.5 times as high for 16-year-old drivers as it is for 18-year-olds; CDC.

Counselor at Pueblo West High School, Lynn Sais, has some input on this increase in teen driving. “I think there is lot more distracted drivers with these phones, and In my opinion it increases [teen driving accidents]… I think there needs to be a level of maturity and I just think that kids, teens, really need to … know that they’re taking their lives in their hands. … Safety has to be first and foremost. No matter a teen or friend in the driver or passenger seat there needs to be an awareness that driving, focusing on the road is the most important thing. I think it’s more about teaching them[teenage drivers] how to handle those distractions. For my sons when they’re of age to drive it will be about minimizing that stuff [distractions] and there will be a lot of conversations to eventually teach them.”  An example of teen crashes on the rise is a case that hits close to home. Senior at Pueblo West High School, Christopher Compton, was in a car crash involving speeding thre months ago and lost his life. This situation brings to life how serious driving is and  how more and more teens are becoming susceptible to irresponsible/reckless driving.

Colorado has implemented the GDL laws (Graduated Driver Licensing) which were created to help new drivers that are starting out stay safe. Some of these include: having a curfew between midnight and 5 a.m., having passenger restriction within the first year, and making the use of phones while driving illegal. There are many available sites to help new drivers if they are still struggling.