Getting a driver's license is a big milestone in a teen's life, but with the resulting freedom comes a lot of risk. Motor vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of death for teens age 16 to 19, mostly because of driver inexperience. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six teens die every day from motor vehicle injuries.
Teen driving accidents aren't only dangerous, they're expensive. Young people between 15 and 19 years old represented 7 percent of the U.S. population in 2013, but they accounted for 11 percent of the total cost of traffic injuries.
Personal-finance website WalletHub analyzed teen driving environments across the country using metrics such as driving laws, seat belt use and teen intoxicated driving to rank all 50 states by the best for teen drivers' safety and their parents' wallets.
The "best" states for teen drivers (No. 1 being the best) are:
19. Rhode Island
17. North Carolina
14. West Virginia
13. New Jersey
1. New York
The "worst" states for teen drivers (with No. 1 being the worst) are:
21. New Mexico
19. South Carolina
11. New Hampshire
6. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
The good news is that teen motor vehicle crashes are often preventable. According to the CDC, proven ways to help keep young drivers safe on the road include enforcing zero-tolerance blood-alcohol laws for drivers younger than 21, graduated driver-licensing programs and enforcing seat belt laws. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the teenagers who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2016, at least 48 percent were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Other key findings from the WalletHub study:
- Vermont, Rhode Island and New York had the fewest teen driver fatalities per teen population, while Wyoming, Alabama and Mississippi saw the most.
- South Dakota, Utah and Nebraska all tied for most teen DUIs per teen population.
- Michigan and Maine had the cheapest average cost for car repairs. Connecticut and Rhode Island on average had the most expensive repairs.
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