After-School Hours Bad For Teen Drivers

By: Lauren Zakalik
By: Lauren Zakalik

Car accidents have long been the number one cause of teen deaths in the United States. Ingham County traffic deputy Mike Soltis has seen that first hand.

"A lot of new drivers don't have experience. They'll get into some scary situations and they won't know what to do, the panic will set in," Soltis says.

Many of those accidents happen at night. That's one reason Michigan prohibits new drivers from driving between midnight and five a.m. But those restrictions may be missing the mark.

According to a new AAA report, after the school day has ended--when the high school parking lots are emptying out-- is one of the most dangerous times for teen drivers. The study reveals that 16- and 17-year-old drivers get into as many fatal accidents after school as they do during weekend nighttime hours, which are traditionally the most "dangerous" times.

Soltis isn't surprised. He says students are excited to get out of school and may act-- and drive-- hastily. He also says the number of passengers in teenagers' cars is also a factor; new drivers, he says, are easily distracted by their passengers.

"It's dangerous for a new driver to have passengers in the vehicle," says Soltis.

Michigan currently has no restrictions on how many people teens can drive in their cars. Soltis can't say exactly how many teens die or cause deaths from car accidents in Ingham County per year, but he does say new passenger restrictions may soon be a reality.

"I think that's the path we're headed in because of the increased fatalities and injuries and accidents."

Perhaps with this new information, the state can try something new to curb this driving problem.


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