Teens 16-17 years old are nine times more likely as drivers 18 and older to be in a car crash.

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Teens 16-17 years old are nine times more likely as drivers 18 and older to be in a car crash.

— If you're the parent of a teen driver between the ages of 16 and 17, you may want to pay attention to the latest research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The latest stats show the difference that one year can make when sitting behind the wheel of a car.

AAA researchers found that teens 16-17 years old are nine times more likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash, and six times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

AAA says the findings are "alarming" as the number of fatal teen crashes increased more than 10 percent over the previous year.

Researchers say being distracted is involved in about six out of every 10 crashes involving teens, much higher than official estimates calculated based on police reports.

As can be expected, talking and texting on a phone are at the top of the list of distractions, but talking to other passengers is also listed among the top distractions.

Then there is the issue of seat belts, or the lack of using them. According to the latest data from 2015, 60 percent of teen drivers who were killed in car crashes were not wearing their seat belts.

The third top factor is speeding, something that was involved in 30 percent of fatal crashes where teens were driving.

If that isn't enough to terrify parents, AAA researchers also found drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 are five times as likely to be involved in a crash compared to drivers 30 to 59.

AAA researchers released their findings at the same time of the year the average number of teen driver crashes increase by 15 percent compared to the rest of the year.

The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is worse than any other time of the year for teens, a fact seen over the past five years as more than 1,600 people were killed in car crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers.

Researchers advise that if you have a teen driver, especially between 16 and 17, your best bet is to lead by example. A parent who talks on the phone while driving will likely have a teen who does the same. And if you're cruising down the road doing 90 mph in a 55 mph zone, expect your kids to do the same.

Experts also say you shouldn't be afraid to make an official agreement between you and the teen that sets out clear rules for the privilege of driving.

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