ARLINGTON, Va. — As predictable as summer sun is the tragic increase in crashes that kill 16-year-old drivers and their peers. This summer has been no exception. From Seattle to the rural roads of Georgia, 16-year-old drivers are crashing and killing themselves, their friends, and motorists in other vehicles. A widely publicized collision in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., in July, for example, involved a car flipping onto a truck and killing three people. A few days later, three more Maryland teens died when they crashed into a tree.
The numbers confirm that crashes like these do increase during summer months. Nationwide, about 38 percent more deaths of teenage drivers occur during June-August than during the preceding three months.
16-year-old driver deaths, 1992-96
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"Many of these crashes share predictable characteristics," Institute senior vice preisdent Allan Williams points out. "Speeding often is a factor. The teenagers aren't using safety belts. The crashes occur mostly at night, with a car full of other teenagers accompanying the brand new driver."