​Collateral damage: Teen drivers not just dangerous to themselves

WASHINGTON -- The American Automobile Association (AAA) calls the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day the "100 Deadliest Days" because of the increase in accidents involving teenagers. But a new study released Wednesday suggests teen drivers and their passengers are not the only ones at risk.

Reid Hollister, 17, was driving late at night in December 2006 when his car spun out and struck a guard rail, killing him and injuring two friends in the car. He was trying to get them home before curfew.

Car accidents remain the leading cause of deaths for teens in the U.S. In 2013, 988 drivers ages 15 to 19 were killed.

But a newly released study by AAA found that two-thirds of people injured or killed in teen driver accidents were not the teen behind the wheel. Over a 20-year period ending in 2013, researchers found four in 10 of the fatalities were in other vehicles or pedestrians.

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"For every teen driver that dies in a crash, two other individuals die in their vehicle and in other vehicles," said Peter Kissinger of AAA.

Kissinger runs AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety. He says teen drivers' inexperience makes them dangerous on the road.

"Young teenage drivers don't really identify risk the same way that a more mature driver would," said Kissinger.

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At an event to advocate safe driving for teens, Tim Hollister, front, speaks in front of a photo of his son Reid who was killed in a crash.
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Reid Hollister's father, Tim, now pushes other parents to pay more attention to their teen's driving, hoping families can avoid the pain he still lives with.

"Losing a teen creates a hole in you that never heals, and that is certainly true - it's as true today as it was 8 years ago," said Hollister.

There was a bright spot in the report: The number of people injured in teen crashes has actually been cut in half since 1994, and deaths are down 56 percent. Researchers credit laws placing limits on young drivers as a big factor in the drop.