May Is National Youth Traffic Safety Awareness Month — Is Your Teen Safe?

May is an exciting but dangerous time of year for teen drivers. Not only is spring in the air and summer vacation just around the corner, but there is also prom and graduation. All these distractions can lead teens to make poor decisions behind the wheel that can bring tragic consequences. Fortunately, the teen group Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAFE) and the Allstate Foundation have teamed up to spread the word about safe driving and commit teens around the country to pledge to "Drive It Right" in May.

Due to their youth and inexperience behind the wheel, teens are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes than any other age group. Teens tend to underestimate dangerous situations on the road or not even recognize when a situation is hazardous. They are more likely to speed and follow closely behind the driver in front of them. Compounding these risky behaviors with a lower rate of seatbelt use compared to other age groups creates a recipe for disaster. It is no wonder, given the risks, that most teens do not feel comfortable or safe in a car with another teen driver.

Car Accidents: The Leading Cause of Death for Teens

All of these risks make the seat behind the wheel an unsafe place for teenagers. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. In 2009, eight teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed every day in car crashes; that same year, 3,000 15- to 19-year-olds lost their lives in car accidents. Fifteen to 24-year-olds only account for 14 percent of the nation's population, but they make up a significant percentage of those injured in car accidents. Teenagers cost the nation more than $25 billion a year — that's nearly 30 percent of all injury costs.

A car accident involving a best friend or family member would be a devastating end to the school year for an American teen. The efforts of SAFE and the Allstate Foundation's National Youth Traffic Safety Awareness Month have hopefully reduced the number of teen driving accidents and made this May a safer time for teens behind the wheel.