A study undertaken by the American Automobile Association (AAA) has found car crashes involving 15-17 year old teenagers cost the U.S. over $34 billion each year. The study takes into account a number of quantifiable factors related to crashes including the cost of medical expenses, lost work and property damage as well as other related costs such as loss of quality of life.

The study took into account data from 2006, during which there were almost one million crashes involving 15-17 year olds on U.S. roads. Of these, around 400,000 people were injured and 2,541 killed. These crashes that involved injuries accounted for the bulk of the $34 billion cost estimate because most required expensive ongoing medical costs.

On a dollars-per-incident basis, fatal crashes were found to be 76 times more expensive to society than regular injury crashes, with fatal crashes costing $3.8 million on average and injury crashes rating just $50,000.

The AAA claims the study proves legislators need to improve graduated driver licensing schemes in American states if they hope to counter the nearly one million crashes involving 15- to 17-year-olds annually. Graduated licensing will ensure teens get adequate practice before hitting the road solo. Graduated driver schemes have proven their benefit, with teens that undergo the program being almost 40% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than their less experienced peers.

Similar schemes introduced in Australia in recent years have led to reductions in the death toll for young drivers, with numbers in the state of New South Wales alone dropping from 144 deaths in 2006 to 100 just one year later.

Other solutions include placing restrictions on night time driving and the number of allowable passengers.