To ride in Sarah Kelly’s car is to follow an inviolable rule: buckle up.
“A lot of my guy friends, I have to remind them to wear their seat belts when I’m driving them around,” said the 18-year-old Ms. Kelly, who graduated from Avonworth High School in June. She added that one method always works: “I tell them I’ll stop the car if they don’t.”
A new report this week indicated that Ms. Kelly’s habit is not as common as it needs to be.
The report, produced by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a Washington, D.C.-based group, showed an increase nationwide in the percentage of fatally injured teen drivers who were not wearing seat belts. More than 51 percent of teenage drivers killed in car accidents in 2012 were not wearing a seat belt. Even more troubling for officials and parents, more than 60 percent of teenage passengers who were killed were not wearing seat belts. Less than 50 percent of fatally injured passengers age 20 and over were not wearing seat belts.
Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. In Pennsylvania, of the 106 teenagers killed in car crashes in 2012, 92 of them were not wearing seat belts. The troubling seat belt numbers come even as fatal car accidents involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers statewide tumbled from 133 in 1997 to 27 in 2013.
Matt Nussbaum: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1504 or on Twitter @MatthewNussbaum.