Best State for Teen Drivers? Believe It or Not, New York

Turns out the safest teen drivers are in New York. We’ve got tips to help keep your teen drivers safe wherever you live.

The traffic accident rates for 16- to 19-year old drivers are higher than those for any other age group. And we’re not just talking fender-benders. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers nationwide, and the vast majority of them are preventable.

Results of studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pinpoint immaturity and inexperience as the primary factors contributing to deadly crashes with young drivers. Other, and often related factors can include poor hazard detection, poor risk perception, speeding, driving with a carload of friends, night time driving and texting while driving. But it appears that some states do a far better job than do others at keeping their teen drivers safe.

Wallethub, a social media site dedicated to helping members make better financial decisions, recently published results of its study titled Best & Worst States for Teen Drivers. Researchers reviewed a combination of 16 different metrics and ranked each state by how well or poorly each of the 50 states fared when it came to three primary issues – safety conditions, economic environment and driving laws. When it all played out, it was teens in New York who proved the safest in the nation.

Here are the top 10 safest states for teen drivers:

  1. New York
  2. Hawaii
  3. Illinois
  4. Oregon
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Maryland
  8. Delaware
  9. Washington
  10. Nevada

And the 10 worst:

  1. South Dakota
  2. Mississippi
  3. Nebraska
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Wyoming
  6. Arkansas
  7. Montana
  8. South Carolina / Missouri (tie)
  9. Arizona
  10. North Dakota

So how do parents help assure their teens will be safe behind the wheel? E3 Spark Plugs offers these tips:

  1. Get all up in their grill: Which, in teen terms, means get in their business and stay there. Don’t just leave the job of teaching your teens to drive in the hands of the local high school’s Driver’s Ed instructor. Get in the passenger seat and let them practice driving in real-world situations including heavy traffic, rain, unfamiliar roads and nighttime driving. After all, real-world roadways are a far cry from the fenced-in, cone-dotted school driver’s range.
  2. Make ‘em wait: Teen drivers are three times more likely than drivers 20 and older to be involved in a fatal car crash, according to statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control. Luckily, it’s becoming far less uncool to lack a driver’s license. A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study showed that fewer than 30 percent of 16-year-olds and only about 45 percent of 17-year-olds were licensed in 2010.
  3. Track ‘em: When it comes to keeping an eye on your kids when you’re not in the car with them, options abound. Many insurance companies provide devices that plug into a car’s computer system and record data on your kids’ driving habits such as speed and sudden stops. And if your teen constantly has his or nose pointed directly at a smartphone screen, apps like DriveSafe Mode allow you to block calls and texts on your teen’s phone while the car is in motion.

Be safe, teens.