Teen drivers study

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COLUMBIA -  A study ranked Missouri as one of the worst states for teen drivers.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for those aged 16 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This also happens to be the age group with the highest risk of crashes. 

WalletHub ranked Missouri 45th on the list of best and worst states for teen drivers. It ranked New York as the best state for teen drivers. The worst state for teen drivers, according to the study, is Montana. 

The study by WalletHub looked at three key factors in each state: safety, economic environment and driving laws. They looked at 21 relevant metrics such as the number of teen driver fatalities, the average cost of repairs and the number of DUI's. 

Under Missouri law, texting and driving is illegal in the state for drivers who are 21 and under. 

Sgt. Scott White from the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the leading cause of crashes in Missouri for all age groups is inattention. 

“Driving means freedom for the young and old alike, but the young people really need to understand that driving is the first privilege that they earn in their lives that allow them to kill another person,” White said. “They have to understand that something bad could happen behind the wheel.”

According to data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were 30,554 crashes involving a young driver in 2015 while last year there were a total of 28,901 crashes. 

White said the best tip they can give parents is to set a good example. 

“Too many times when parents tell their children don’t text and drive and don’t do this behind the wheel sometimes they do it, so the best thing we can tell parents is to make sure they set that good example,” White said. 

White said so far in the state of Missouri 68 percent of the people that have been killed in car crashes are not wearing a seat belt. 

“Really it comes down to a mindset,” White said. “People simply think it’s not gonna happen to them. That’s why people don’t wear seat belts because they may have not of worn it for years and got away with it or they continue to use their phone behind the wheel because nothing bad has happened.”

For a deeper look into the study, visit WalletHub's website