Special Report: The Dangers of Teen Driving

Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens. It's time to take action.

By Joseph K. Vetter with Fran Lostys from Reader's Digest | August 2008

In a first-ever analysis, we examined each state’s graduated driver licensing, seat belt, and DUI laws and awarded points based on strictness. (Alaska gets more points in the seat belt category because anyone 16 and older who isn’t buckled up can be fined; New Hampshire gets fewer points because it has no seat belt laws for 18- and 19-year olds.)

BEST
Alaska, California, Delaware, Washington, Illinois, Maine, Indiana, Oregon, Hawaii, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, District of Columbia

GOOD
New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Nebraska, Maryland, Oklahoma, Colorado, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, Utah

FAIR
Massachusetts, Vermont, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, West Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Nevada

WORST
New Hampshire, Kansas, Wyoming, South Carolina, Mississippi, North Dakota, Minnesota, Idaho, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas

The Teen Death Toll
States with the toughest driving laws tend to have lower fatality rates, but other factors count too. Rural roads (with higher speed limits, less traffic, and fewer nearby medical services) are a big crash risk. The following is a list of the top 10 states in teen-driving fatalities per 100,000 kids over the past decade.

Mississippi 35.1, Wyoming 34.5, Montana 33.8, Alabama 33.5, Missouri 32.5, Arkansas 31.9, Tennessee 30.8, S. Dakota 30.8, Kentucky 30.6, Oklahoma 28.3

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