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Top 10 'deadliest hot spots' for teen drivers on New Year's Eve

December 29, 2008 |  6:14 pm

Distract2500Of all the parental warnings to young motorists during the holidays, the one that might inspire the most eye-rolling is: “Be careful driving on New Year’s Eve -- it’s amateur night out there.” Allstate believes that's not nearly severe enough a warning about the hazards of holiday driving. The car insurance giant says its fatality data indicate that car crashes are the No. 1 killer of American teens. That squares with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that show the leading cause of death among adolescents is unintentional injuries, with about three-quarters being motor-vehicle/traffic related.

To raise awareness of this issue, Allstate has released a study identifying the deadliest hot spots across the nation for teen drivers on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The analysis is based on crashes that involved a teen driver and resulted in at least one fatality. (No determination of fault is identified in the data.) The top 10 on the list are:

1. Jacksonville, Fla.
2. Columbus, Ohio 
3. Richmond, Va.
4. Birmingham, Ala.
5. Orlando, Fla.
6. Phoenix
7. Las Vegas
8. Philadelphia
9. Sacramento
10. St. Louis, Mo.

Rural areas seem to score the worst in this study. Megan Brunet, Allstate communications manager, said that may be because rural areas are less likely to have GDL (Graduated Driver Licensing) laws, which place more restrictions and tougher regulations on teen drivers. Also, she said, "rural areas don’t have as many traffic lights and signs to slow teen drivers down."

Allstate determined its “teen driving scores” based on the teen-involved fatality crashes from 2000 to 2007, U.S. Census Bureau metro-area statistics and its own claims data on teen collisions.

Allstate groups Long Beach and Santa Ana into its "Los Angeles" area. Although Los Angeles has the highest sheer number of crashes of any metro area, its per-capita crash rate is relatively low.

Allstate believes that parents have more influence over keeping teen drivers safe than they think. A recent survey it conducted among 1,000 teens showed that more than 80% of teens saw their parents as their No. 1 influence when they made decisions on the road. Brunet said parental discussions should go beyond the typical fear-based warnings. “We notice that parents often talk to their kids about drinking and driving, drugs, sex and violence, but not about the things that are the actual causes of teen fatalities," she said. "We’re doing a lot about drinking and driving but only 15% of crashes involving teens are alcohol- and drug-related; 85% to 87% of crashes are caused by driver errors."

So what are parents to do? Allstate has provided a handy parent-teen driving contract on its website (www.allstate.com/teen) based on the eight main risk factors for teens -– speeding, night driving, crashes, number of passengers, drinking and driving, seat-belt usage, cellphones, music or distractions. Under each of the risks, there is a space for a customized agreement and the accompanying consequences for parents to negotiate with their kids before they turn them loose to drive.

But, for New Year’s Eve, perhaps a little old-fashioned chauffeuring of your teen and a group of his or her friends wouldn't hurt.

-- Joni Gray

Photo and video provided by Allstate

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