A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, published in Thursday's CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, says the number of 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes decreased by 36 percent -- from 2,230 in 2004 to 1,437 in 2008 with two-thirds of the fatalities involving male teens.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, says vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for U.S. teens though most are preventable, but the graduated driver licensing programs -- which limit driving at night and while transporting other teen passengers -- are widely credited with contributing to the reduction in fatal teen vehicle crashes.
The rates of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes varied widely among states ranging from 9.7 per 100,000 in New York and New Jersey to 59.6 per 100,000 in Wyoming.
Of the 11,019 people who died in crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers, 37 percent were the young drivers themselves, 31 percent were passengers of young drivers, 18 percent were drivers of other vehicles and 7 percent were passengers of the other drivers. An additional 7 percent involved bicyclists or pedestrians.