Young drivers need better education

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A survey of driver-related deaths puts Iowa among the states with the highest percentage of fatal accidents involving a driver between the ages of 16 and 20.

The survey by the Coalition to End Needless Deaths on Our Roadways, a physician-led organization, showed that 88 deadly crashes in Iowa in 2005 - or just under 20 percent -involved a driver between the ages of 16 and 20.

Iowa trailed only Delaware and Maine in the percentage of fatal wrecks involving young drivers in 2005 - the latest year the data was available.

Nationally in 2005, 16 percent of all fatal crashes involved a young driver. Iowa's poor relative showing cannot be dismissed as simply the result of different demographics between states. Iowa is a state with one of the highest average ages in the country, a fact that should reduce the percentage of youth related fatal accidents, not increase it.

Dr. Andrea Barthwell, a co-chair of the doctor-led group that released the survey, said the solution lies in tougher graduated license and seat belt laws, and more parent and teen education.

She said many states have enacted more laws and programs to reduce the numbers.

Wisconsin and Missouri rounded out the top five states with the highest percentage of fatal crashes involving young drivers.

At the bottom of the list, places with the lowest percentage of young driver-related deaths, are Alaska, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Wyoming and Montana.

We need to make our younger drivers better prepared and more alert to dangers,