Study: Indiana ranks No. 1 in teen driving deaths

INDIANAPOLIS - A study released this week puts Indiana in a top spot when it comes to the state’s number of teen driving deaths.

The study, done by the personal-finance website Wallet Hub, says Indiana has more teen driving deaths per licensed teen driver than any other state.

While Indiana is No. 1 in teen driving deaths, it ranks higher on the list when it comes to trying to protect those teen drivers, according to the study. The state ranks 26th from the top as far as laws protecting teens and the quality of roads they drive on.

The study also shows Indiana ranking in the No. 2 spot when it comes to the number of teens being ticketed for drinking and driving.

Longtime driving instructor Don Gross with AA Indiana Driving School in Carmel said he was not surprised by the study.

"Probably not a shock. I think maybe we are a little more casual sometimes in Indiana about some things. Our law enforcement may not be as rigid," Gross said. "One of the things that's a problem in Indiana, we are one of the lowest licensing ages for teenagers who do not take driver education. Many states have a licensing age of 17 if they don't take driver education." 

So now, the question is: What do you do with this information? A panel of experts linked to this study said the big thing to realize is, every time your child gets behind the wheel, there is a risk.

Gross said kids often drive too fast for the conditions and disregard traffic laws, but the main problem is inexperience. Gross said parents need to be proactive with kids even after they get their license.

"We need to remember, just like the coaches, they don't give players the rules of the game and let them go play the game, they are continuously practicing, correcting, reinforcing, trying to improve the skills," Gross said.

As a parent, you can reduce that risk by putting your teen in a safe car -- one with working airbags, electronic stability control and other similar features.

An epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests you share a family car with your teen, as teens who share a family car tend to take fewer risks while driving.

Another piece of advice: Experts say just because a teen is 16, doesn’t mean they need to be on the road. More and more families are waiting for their students to turn 18 before they get their driver’s license.

Watch our video and head to the study for more.

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