SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The number of teenagers involved in deadly car crashes in the United States is rising for the first time in nearly a decade.
New federal data shows a 10 percent increase last year.
Donovan Tessmer was about to start his senior year of high school. But while out with friends, the teen’s girlfriend was speeding, lost control and hit a tree. Donovan Tessmer wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. He was ejected and killed instantly.
His mother, Martha Tessmer said, “I can’t even describe what it felt like in that moment to be standing on a crash site looking down at a yellow tarp knowing that my son was underneath it. But also knowing that the young driver would have never done anything to hurt us on purpose.”
Almost a decade later, speeding remains the top mistake teens make behind the wheel.
Of the nearly 14,000 fatal crashes involving teen drivers over the last 5 years, more than 4,200 involved speed.
Tamra Johnson with AAA says its survey found parents were often more guilty of bad driving than their teens. 65% of driving instructors complained parents were worse at teaching their children to drive than a decade ago.
“I think one of the kind of disturbing things is that it’s not getting any better,” Johnson said.
She said, “When parents set stricter rules for their teens before they get behind the wheel, those teens typically have less crashes.”
After speed, the most common mistake teens make is distracted driving.
The third big mistake is not properly scanning the road for hazards.
New research funded by Ford finds one-third of teens are waiting until they’re 18 to get their licenses, then they’re not subject to graduated licensing laws that place limits on young drivers.
Those laws have been credited with reducing teen crash risk by as much as 30 percent.