Statistics on Car Accidents Involving Teen Drivers
Some of the causes behind teen car accidents are reflected in statistics from various sources.
- The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among US teens;
- The risk of car collisions is higher among drivers aged 16-19 as compared to any other age group, at three times more likely to be in an accident than drivers 20 or older;
- Vehicle accidents are common in the first few months that a teen gets his or her license, as the crash rate per mile driven is three times higher for 16-17 year olds than 18-19 year olds; and,
- Distracted driving is a factor in 60% of teen car crashes and, of those, 15% are due to interactions with another passenger and 12% involve cell phone usage;
There are certain factors that are more likely to be present when a teen gets into the driver’s seat:
- Inexperience: As with any activity that requires skill, a person gets better with practice. The fact is that teens just do not have as much time behind the wheel as other motorists on the road. They are often not able to identify hazards they encounter when driving, which means they are less likely to be able to react appropriately to avoid an accident.
- Texting and Driving: Texting, surfing the internet, and other types of cell phone usage are obviously dangerous for drivers of any age. Unfortunately, these activities are also very popular among teenagers in general. Maryland has enacted laws making phone use unlawful, but teens still engage in this type of risky conduct.
- Other Distractions: In addition to using a cell phone, there are other activities that may take a teen’s attention away from driving the car. Eating or drinking, operating a navigation system, adjusting the radio, and conversing with other passengers are also examples of unsafe distracted driving that are more likely to lead to accidents.
- Reckless Driving and Speeding: Teens, especially males, delight in the personal freedoms that come with getting their driver’s license. As a result, they tend to take risks behind the wheel when parents or other adults are not around, such as speeding, making illegal turns, tailgating, dangerous lane maneuvers, and street racing.
- Teen Passengers in the Car: Peer pressure can be a powerful motivating factor, and other teen passengers may encourage a teen motorist to engage in reckless driving they would not otherwise attempt. However, even just being social and chatting with friends in the car can be a distraction for teens who should be focusing on driving.
Safety Tips for Teen Drivers and Parents
There are many ways teen drivers can work to be safer when driving, and parents should be involved with safety conversations as their child is learning to drive. Some tips include:
- Teens should practice as much as possible with parents, especially during the first few months after receiving their licenses. The more time behind the wheel, the more experience a young driver can accumulate.
- Parents should consider themselves a primary resource for teen drivers, coaching them into safe habits and practices – and practicing what they preach.
- Teens driving solo or with other teens are at higher risk of an accident, so limit driving under these circumstances for new drivers.
- Parents should consider implementing a graduated licensing program that sets rules for teens, in addition to state and local traffic laws. Examples include:
- Setting a curfew so that teen drivers are not on the road late at night, when visibility is an issue for drivers of all ages;
- Limiting the number of teen passengers a driver can have in the car;
- Requiring the teen to maintain a certain minimum grade point average, as studies show that better students make better drivers.
Certain car accident factors are more likely to blame when teen drivers get behind the wheel of a car, as compared to adults with years of experience. However, the truth is that an auto collision can occur at any time, and drivers of all ages can be negligent in operating their vehicles. If you are injured in a crash involving a teen driver, you do have rights to recover compensation for such losses as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Due to the complex nature of a Maryland car accident case, retaining the right attorney to represent your interests is critical. You need a strong legal advocate who has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of state law on personal injury matters. A lawyer can assist you in pursuing your claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company, and in settlement negotiations. If it is necessary to take the battle to court, an attorney will fight for your rights in court.
For more information on your options after an accident, please contact the law offices of Bob Katz. Our attorneys have represented many clients in car collision cases, including incidents where teens were driving or where victims have been injured by other teen drivers We are happy to answer your questions or schedule a free case assessment to discuss your options.