Some sobering news for the parents of teenage drivers in Florida:
The Tampa Bay area, Orlando and Jacksonville are ranked
Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, as the deadliest metro areas in America for drivers ages 16 to 19, according to a study released Monday by Allstate.
Not wearing a seat belt was the No. 1 contributing factor in all three Florida cities, said Allstate spokeswoman Megan Brunet, followed by speeding, alcohol use and drug use.
The study combined recent federal crash statistics and Allstate claims data to come up with a rate of fatal accidents involving teens. Allstate is the second-largest auto insurer in Florida and in the nation, behind only State Farm. Auto insurers as a group have been actively pushing online education programs targeted to teens with the lure of getting premium discounts.
Among the other national statistics compiled by Allstate:
• Car crashes are the top killer of teenagers in America, resulting in nearly 6,000 deaths and 300,000 injuries each year.
• Despite safer cars, better roads and decades of safe-driving programs, the rate of teen driving fatalities has not changed significantly in more than a decade.
• In 2006, 62 percent of teen passenger deaths occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager.
• Adding just one passenger to a teen driver's car doubles the risk of a crash, and that risk increases proportionally with the number of teenage passengers.
The best thing parents can do to try to keep their kids safe is to lead by example, said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Mark Welch.
"If you don't wear your seat belt, you can't expect your child to wear his," he said.
Tom Zucco can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8247.