Still, the trend for younger drivers -- as with drivers overall -- is toward safety. The 1,963 drivers ages 15 to 20 who died in motor-vehicle crashes in 2010 represented a 46% drop from the 3,617 who died in 2001, according to NHTSA.
There are proven ways to limit the carnage, according to the CDC. It cites graduated driver licensing systems in which teens' abilities to drive are expanded over time from the initial stages, when driving is restricted to low-risk conditions.
Some parents are equipping their vehicles with tracking technology, which they can use to monitor their children's driving habits in real time.
"Parents are very nervous," Ken Muth, a spokesman for American Family Insurance, said in a telephone interview. "Our agents hear it every day. Putting a 16-year-old behind the wheel on their own is a very frightening thing for a parent."
The company offers parents the option of installing a webcam on the rear-view mirror of the car used by new drivers.
The camera records what happens inside and outside the vehicle but saves the recording only when it senses a sudden movement such as hard braking or a sharp turn, Muth said.
The video is provided to the parents on a secure website, the equivalent of a driving report card for their kids, he said.
"They can sit and review what happened in that incident and use it as a learning tool," said Muth. He noted that the service is free for a year, and the insurance company is not privy to the information collected.
Muth credited the program for reducing risky driving behavior and said teens tend to embrace the technology after using it. "They develop trust with their parents, become better drivers and get more driving privileges."
Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm, noted that the insurer set up a website last fall to aid beginning drivers and their parents. One of its programs -- Road Aware -- helps drivers learn to recognize and anticipate road hazards in front of a video screen rather than on the road.
"This is not a skill that's automatic," Mullen said in a telephone interview. "It has to be learned."
Forty-three percent of teen driver crashes are due to a failure to recognize hazards, she said.
In another example of help from technology, a teenager can activate an app on his or her cellular phone and then put it in their vehicle's cupholder, where it will score the driver's abilities based on acceleration, cornering and braking, she said. "It gives you feedback on the drive you just took and allows you to score it," she said.
Chance Bothe's near-fatal texting is common, according to CDC statistics. In 2009, distracted driving was linked to more than 5,400 deaths and about 448,000 injuries. Cell phone use was cited as the major distraction in nearly 1,000 of the deaths and 24,000 injuries.
Nine percent of U.S. drivers said they texted or e-mailed "regularly or fairly often" while driving.
Not all of those messages may be worth sending.
"It was just a curve coming into town," Bobby Bothe said. "And he never curved. Just kept going straight. If the creek would have had water in it, he would have drowned.
"Three of my buddies seen it happen; they went to him and they drug him out of the truck and the truck was on fire and it blew up as soon as they got him out," he said.