Report: Car crashes top killer of teens

Behaviors, technology can help protect young drivers

Published On: Aug 28 2012 05:27:30 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 28 2012 05:52:44 PM CDT

Nearly 3,000 teens die in traffic accidents each year, making crashes the No. 1 killer of that age group.

Attacking the problem on many fronts can go a long way toward preventing such tragedies, according to Consumer Reports.

Not wearing a seat belt is a factor in about 60 percent of fatal accidents involving teens, something that's easily changeable.

Distractions like texting and talking on the phone are also big factors. And, in fatal accidents involving young drivers, 27 percent were drunk.

"The first year of driving is the riskiest," said Consumer Reports'  Liza Barth. "Actually, 16-year-olds are three times more likely to get in a crash than 18- or 19-year olds."

To help protect young drivers, Consumer Reports recommends advanced training, beyond basic driver's ed.

Technology like Ford's MyKey allows parents to set certain protective controls like not disabling the radio until the seat belt is fastened and setting a maximum speed.

When buying a car for a young driver, Consumer Reports advises looking for newer models with more safety features, especially electronic stability control and side curtain airbags.