Nevada's Teen Drivers Get Into More Auto Accidents

A Reno Gazette-Journal study of state and federal accident data shows accident rates among Nevada's teen drivers are increasing, with a particular increase among the state's 17-year-old drivers. Fifteen-year-old drivers also showed high accident-rate increases.

The Gazette-Journal reported that this problem appears to be particularly bad in Washoe County, where the accident rate for teen drivers is well ahead of the rate for teen drivers in the rest of the state. The percentage of those accidents that are resulting in injuries is also climbing. In 2002 -- the last year for which complete records were available -- Washoe teen drivers' injury accident rate when they had teen passengers on board was nearly twice the statewide rate.

The number of passengers being injured in these accidents is increasing as well. The injury rate when the injured passenger is a teen jumped 20 percent from 2000 to 2002 and the injury rate when the passenger is either an adult or a child doubled between 1999 and 2002.

Five years ago, Washoe's teen drivers' accident rate was just 2 percent higher than everyone else's. But by 2002, more than 1 in 5 teen drivers in Washoe County were having driving mishaps. Their accident rate of 20.79 percent was more than 10 percent higher than the rest of the teens in the state.

Although that's discouraging, it was an improvement; in 2001 the accident rate for Washoe's teens was almost 18 percent higher than their counterparts elsewhere in Nevada.

The accident rate for 17-year-olds in Nevada is the highest of any age group in the state -- 10 percent higher than 16-year-old drivers and nearly three times the rate for 15-year-old drivers.

Seventeen-year-olds have the highest accident rates for all categories measured -- injury accidents, property-damage-only accidents and fatal accidents. The only good news: 17-year-olds' rate for DUI-related accidents was lower than all groups except 16-year-olds and was half the rate of the leaders -- 22-year-old drivers.