WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, a reminder to all drivers that teenagers need time to learn and practice safe skills while on the road.

More than 16,000 teen drivers from 16 to 19 years of age in Massachusetts were involved in a car accident in 2021, according to AAA. That’s equivalent to one teenager-involved car crash every 32 minutes. Teenager driving deaths and injuries were also the highest since 2012, with 144 teen drivers killed or seriously injured and 2,160 teen drivers injured in an accident.

“It’s a time of year when teens are driving to school and unfortunately we see terrible tragedies throughout Massachusetts involving teens getting into terrible crashes,” said Mark Schieldrop from AAA Northeast.

AAA breaks down the common causes of accident in 2021 involving teenage drivers:

  • 2,668 – Failing to yield at a right of way
  • 2,071 – Following too closely to another vehicle
  • 1,039 – Speeding
  • 824 – Failure to stay in the lane or driving off the road

Mary Maguire, Vice President of Public Affairs at AAA Northeast says parents are a crucial role in teen driving safety, “New teen drivers are still gaining experience behind the wheel, which increases the chance of dangerous situations for the teen and other roadway users around them,” she said. “This is why it’s so important for parents to have these discussions with their teens. Start the conversation today and continue it every day. AAA encourages families develop a parent-teen driving contract and agree on rules that exceed state laws. Have discussions with your teen drivers about risky driving behaviors that can lead to fatal consequences.”

AAA encourages parents to discuss the following with the children:

  • Impaired driving: Although teenagers are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol or marijuana, nearly 19 percent of teen passengers in deadly crashes in 2020 had alcohol on their system.
  • Seat Belts: Not enough teenagers are wearing their seat belts. Nearly 52 percent of teens that died in car crashes in 2020 were unbuckled.
  • Distracted Driving: Distractions and not paying attention is the cause of more than 3,700 crashes. In Massachusetts, teenagers under the age of 18 can not touch a phone at all while driving, including use in hands free mode. Distracted driving also includes passengers, the radio, the AC, and eating or drinking. Headphones should also not be worn while driving a vehicle.
  • Speed limits: Teenagers with less experience are more likely to be speeding. Men are more likely to be involved in a deadly car accident involving speed than women.

“Teen Driver Safety week is the perfect time to go over the rules of the road, remind teens that they need to drive responsibly and its a leading cause of death for young people,” said Schieldrop.

Parents are strongly encouraged to use AAA’s Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to let your children know what you are expecting from them as they take the wheel.