We’re reminded every day that city streets and highways are dangerous for all drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Hearing constant stories about traffic deaths involving distracted driving or drunk driving makes it difficult for any parent to trust that the roads will be safe for teen drivers. Fortunately, the number of traffic deaths has been falling in recent years. For example, the last year with reliable information, 2009, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System reported 33,800 deaths. This may sound like a lot, but it was the best year on record since 1950, and nearly 18 percent lower than 2007. Take a look at our interactive graph of those 2009 figures, broken up by vehicle type.
Nationwide Traffic Deaths by Vehicle Type
As you can see, the fatality statistics stay largely consistent with the popularity of the vehicle type. Passenger cars, for example, make up the vast majority of traffic fatalities. The trend doesn’t hold completely true, though, as motorcycles are responsible for a disproportionate number of fatalities. And although pedestrians are everywhere, they are the must vulnerable to traffic deaths, since they rarely cause fatal accidents but make up such a large number of traffic deaths.
As you can see by the graph below, showing the same statistics in California alone, the national trends stay consistent on the state level.
California Traffic Deaths by Vehicle Type
These statistics likely don’t help to make it any easier to feel comfortable with your teenager driving alone on city streets and highways. But parents can take concrete steps to ensure that their teenagers are avoiding distractions, obeying street signs, and steering clear of risky behavior. Consider developing a parent-teen safe driving contract, complete with agreed-upon rules and awards for safe driving.