Connecticut ranked 24th best state for teen drivers

The state of Connecticut came in 24th place on WalletHub's ranking of the best and worst states for teen drivers in 2014.

According to the personal finance social network site, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 16 and 19 and they also have the highest crash rate of any age group.

People ages 15 to 24 account for about 30% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries, according to WalletHub, and "that’s not counting auto maintenance, high insurance premiums, possible traffic citations and other vehicular incidents that can rack up expensive costs over time."

"Looking...at the summer season, it is prudent to reflect on the fact that more teens will be obtaining their licenses during this time, when an average of 260 teens are killed in car accidents each month," states WalletHub.

Garry Lapidus, director of Connecticut Children's Medical Center's Injury Prevention Center and associate professor of pediatrics and public health at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said young drivers "tend to overestimate their own driving abilities and, at the same time, underestimate the dangers on the road."

"Crash rates for young drivers are high largely because of their immaturity combined with driving inexperience. The immaturity is apparent in young drivers' risky driving practices such as speeding," said Mr. Lapidus.

"At the same time, teenagers' lack of experience behind the wheel makes it difficult for them to recognize and respond to hazards. They get in trouble trying to handle unusual driving situations, and these situations turn disastrous more often than when older people drive."

Best (green) and worst (red) states for teen drivers

To determine the best and worst states for teen drivers, WalletHub used 16 key metrics, which fall under three categories: safety conditions, economic environment, and driving laws that affect each state's overall driving conditions.

Safety conditions

With the third least teen driver fatalities per licensed teen driver, Connecticut was ranked the seventh best state when it comes to safety conditions.

In addition to teen driver fatalities per licensed teen drivers, Wallet Hub looked at the following metrics in determining each state's safety conditions rank:

  • Percent of teen population with driver's licenses.
  • Teen drivers as a percent of drivers.
  • Vehicle miles traveled per capita
  • Number of teens arrested for "under the influence" traffic violations per licensed teen drivers.
  • Quality of roads.

With the lowest percent of teen population with driver's licenses and the lowest number of teen "under the influence" traffic violations per licensed teen drivers, WalletHub ranked Hawaii the No. 1 state when it comes to safety conditions.

Economic environment

WalletHub determined each state's economic environment rank based on:

  • Maximum value of speed ticket.
  • Maximum value of red light ticket.
  • Maximum first offense fines for not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Average cost of car repairs.
  • Premium increase after adding a teen driver to an auto insurance policy.

Based on these metrics, Connecticut was ranked the 31st best, or 19th worst, state in terms of economic environment.

With the third-lowest average cost of car repairs, South Dakota received the best economic environment ranking of all 50 states.

Driving laws

Each state's driving laws were ranked based on:

  • Teen driver's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program laws.
  • Occupant protection laws.
  • Impaired driving laws.
  • Distracted driving and texting-while-driving laws.
  • Red light and speeding camera laws.

Connecticut's GDL program includes the following components:

  • Minimum age of 16 for obtaining a learner permit.
  • Four-month waiting period with driver's education or six-month waiting period without driver's education, before applying for an intermediate license.
  • Minimum of 40 hours of supervised driving.
  • Minimum age of 16 years and four months for obtaining an intermediate stage license.
  • An 11 p.m. nighttime driving curfew.
  • Passenger restrictions: No passengers other than parents or driving instructors during the first six months, and no passengers other than parents, instructors or immediate family during the second six months.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles' 2013 report on Connecticut's teen driving laws, there has been a 64% reduction in deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers since the state adopted restrictive teen driving laws in 2003.

Connecticut state laws prohibit anyone under 21 from driving with a blood alcohol content of .02% or more. Drivers who violate the laws face criminal penalties and driver's license suspension penalties.

According to the report, state records show a 39% decrease in charges for underage drinking and a 28% decrease in arrests for driving intoxicated from 2008 to 2012.

Despite Connecticut's GDL program laws and reductions in teen driver fatalities and "under the influence" arrests, Connecticut's driving laws were ranked the 10th worst in the nation by WalletHub.

WalletHub ranked both New York and Illinois as having the best driving laws in the nation. Illinois had the second-lowest number of teen "under the influence" traffic violation per licensed teen drivers in the country, and New York ranked one of the 11 states with the best GDL programs.

WalletHub also ranked New York the No. 1 overall best state for teen drivers in 2014.