Northern Virginia teen part of national debate on teen driving safety

A Northern Virginia teen-ager stepped into the national discussion about teed driving safety when National Public Radio profiled the young man as part of its story of how teen boys are more likely than their female counterparts to get into a traffic accident.

Teenage male drivers are involved in twice as many fatal crashes as teenage female drivers, NPR reported. Boys are also more likely to have been drinking or speeding.

“Guys like to do stupid stuff for adrenaline,” Basil Rynestead, 17, of rural Fauquier County, told reporter Robert Benincasa. “There’s a lot of my friends who think it’s cool to speed, like they’ll speed up a lot during the curves. I don’t like doing that stuff.”

Rynestead navigates twisty, rural, unlit roads without shoulders to get home from after-school football practice at Liberty High School. But the teen “seems relaxed and focused behind the wheel.”

About 6,000 drivers from age 15 to age 20 were in fatal traffic accidents in 2008, NPR said – and almost 75 percent of them were boys.

“There’s just these really striking differences between males and females,” Anne McCartt, the senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told NPR. “You see a discrepancy in terms of all driver errors, including speeding, so that might be following too closely, failure to yield.”

Graduated driver’s licenses or delayed licensing both have positive impact on accident rates. Graduated licenses allow teens to acquire driving privileges gradually.