The personal finance website WalletHub last week released the results of its survey to identify the best and the worst states for teen-aged drivers, and Virginia showed up down the list at No. 28 among the 50 states.
As the website pointed out, getting a driver’s license is considered a rite of passage in American culture. But this exciting coming-of-age has instead become a death sentence for thousands of teens each year. Motor-vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of death among the population aged 16 to 19, which also happens to be the age group with the highest risk of crashes.
The financial implications are staggering, too. In 2018, motor vehicle crashes involving 15- to 19-year-olds resulted in $4.8 billion in costs from medical expenses and work loss. That’s not counting the costs of auto maintenance, insurance premiums, possible traffic citations and other vehicular incidents, expenses that can pile up over time.
To help parents ensure their teens’ safety while also safeguarding their finances, WalletHub analyzed the teen-driving environment across three key dimensions, safety, economic environment, and driving laws in each of the 50 states and also used a collection of 23 metrics.
Among the metrics used in the safety dimension were teen driver facilities per 1,000 teens; vehicle miles traveled per capita; traffic indiscipline (a composite metric that measures incidents due to poor behavior such as phone use, speeding, aggressive acceleration, harsh braking, and poor turning.); teen ‘under the influence’ traffic violations per 1,000 teens; the share of teen drinking and driving; the share of teen texting/emailing while driving; and the share of teenagers age 18 to 24 who always or nearly always wear a seat belt.
Among the metrics used in the economic environment dimension were the maximum cost of speeding tickets; the maximum cost of red-light tickets; the maximum amount of first-offensive fines for not wearing seat belts; the premium increase after adding teen drivers to the parents’ auto insurance policy; and the average cost of car repairs.
Among the metrics used by WalletHub in the driving laws dimension were the provision of teen drivers’ graduated driver licensing program laws; the presence of occupant protection laws; the presence of impaired driving laws; the presence of distracted driving/texting while driving laws; the presence of red light and speeding camera laws; and the leniency toward DUI violations.
The ten states WalletHub determined to be the safest for teen drivers were New York, Oregon, Connecticut, Alaska, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Maryland, and New Jersey.
The ten states WalletHub determined to be the most dangerous for teen-age drivers in order to the worst were South Carolina, New Hampshire. Arkansas, Nebraska, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, Idaho, and Wyoming.