Getting your driver’s license is an exciting rite of passage but in horrible circumstances, it can be a death sentence for thousands of teenagers every year.
A recent study by WalletHub analyzed teen driving in every state.
WalletHub ranked all 50 states from best to worst states for teenage drivers, and Missouri didn’t do so well.
"It's pretty disturbing that we are ranked that low with our teen drivers, that's concerning definitely," said Sgt. Bill Lowe of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Not only was Missouri in the top 10 for states with the worst teenage drivers, but it was also one of the top states with the least graduated driver’s license restrictions.
"It's a big concern, I would like to figure out why we rank so low and make those changes," said Kristy Kempin, a mother.
Kansas ranked 29th on the list. In Missouri, at 15 you can get a learner's permit after passing a written and driving exam. In Kansas, the age is 14. Lowe said that extra year could play a role in the difference in rank.
"The more experience you have behind the wheel, the better off you're going to be," Lowe said.
Car accidents continue to be the leading cause of death among teens, which is also the age group with the highest risk of crashes.
"These mistakes that she might make or someone else makes while she’s driving can be fatal and that scares the crap out of me," Kempin said.
Last year alone, the Missouri Department of Transportation reported nearly 29,000 car accidents involving a young driver.
Lowe said a lot of this is due to distracted driving.
"The more occupants we have in the car, the more distraction there is and the more distraction the driver has, the risk of being involved in a traffic crash rises significantly," Lowe said.
That’s why one mother said she’s giving her daughter a two-seater pick-up truck.
"We feel that if we can just physically limit the number of people that can be in the car with her, we think that's taking care of some of the challenges as well," Kempin said.
The best thing Sergeant Lowe said parents can do for their teens is to let them patience.
"Be patient with them, I know with my son, there's time where I know he could pull out and go on a city street, but he doesn't feel comfortable doing it," Lowe said.
He also said parents need to set a good example.
"Get them on the highways, get them out in traffic and let them practice," Lowe said.