Every teenager looks forward to that moment when he or she passes the driver’s license exam and can finally take a seat behind the wheel as a licensed driver.
Driving offers teens independence, a chance to hang out without friends without having to have mom or dad pick them up or chaperone. It is simply a part of becoming an adult.
While the thrill of driving holds major appeal for teens, it is important that they be aware of their responsibility as a driver. They owe a duty to themselves, their passengers and to other drivers on the road.
Unfortunately, teen drivers are a greater risk of being involved in car accidents than any other age group. Injuries due to teen accidents can be severe and life-threatening.
Knowing the facts about teen drivers, common causes of teen accidents and how you can help your teen become a safer and more responsible driver will help to ensure their safety. If you are the parent of teen driver, it can give you some piece of mind when handing over your keys.
FACTS ABOUT TEEN DRIVING ACCIDENTS
Unfortunately, it seems like every school year we hear about yet another tragic car accident that claims the lives of young people in our community.
The sad truth is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens between the ages of 16 and 19 in our country.
Motor vehicle accidents claim the lives of more than 2,000 teens each year, and more than 240,000 suffer serious injuries, the CDC reports.
According to the CDC, facts about teen drivers and car accidents that parents and loved ones should be aware of include the following:
- Drivers that are ages 16 through 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than those ages 20 and older
- The chances of being involved in an accident increases for teens with the number of passengers in the car
- Six teens ages 16 through 19 die each day as the result of injuries sustained in car accident.
Factors that contribute to the high incidence of car accidents among teen drivers include driver inexperience as well as the tendency to engage in risky and potentially dangerous behavior – especially in the presence of peers.
WHAT ARE COMMON CAUSES OF TEEN ACCIDENTS?
According to a recent news report by a Memphis TV station, WREG, parents should be encouraged to talk about safe driving with their children.
In Tennessee alone, more than 100 teen drivers were killed as the result of fatal car crashes in 2014, WREG states.
Sadly, our office has seen first-hand the devastating effects these accidents have on surviving family members. It is up to parents to discuss with their children the common causes of car accidents involving young drivers, which include:
- Distracted driving – Texting while driving, talking on cell phones or interacting with other passengers in the vehicle
- Speeding and aggressive driving – Behaviors such as tailgating and improper passing
- Disregarding traffic signals – Running red lights or stop signs
- Speeding – Driving too fast for road, weather or traffic conditions or going faster than the posted speed limit allows
- Impairment – Driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Teenagers often do not realize the serious repercussions of their actions. They also do not have the benefit of years of driving experience. It takes time to learn how to respond to the variety of situations they are likely to face on the road as well as to know how to handle emergency situations that may arise.
Parents should discuss different types of driving scenarios with their teen driver and provide the guidance their teen needs in terms of knowing how to respond quickly and safely on the road.
TEACHING YOUR TEEN TO DRIVE SAFELY
In light of the alarming statistics concerning teen drivers, many state such as Tennessee now recognize Teen Driver Safety Week each October.
Established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the program urges parents and concerned loved ones to talk to teens and to encourage and model safe driving habits themselves.
In addition to Teen Driver Safety Week, the NHTSA also developed the “Five to Drive campaign” (nhtsa.gov), which address the five deadliest and most dangerous teen driving behaviors. Backed with the knowledge concerning the high rates of teen car accidents and teen accident fatalities, parents and guardians are urged to set firm limits with teen drivers and to set down the following rules when it comes to driving:
- No alcohol – Despite the fact that the legal drinking age is 21, many teens and their friends have easy access to alcohol. Alcohol is a contributing factor in close to 25 percent of all teen accident fatalities, the NHTSA states.
- No cell phone use or texting – According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving is a leading factor in six out of 10 teen car accidents.
- No driving or riding as a passenger without wearing a seatbelt – More than half of the teens killed in car accidents were not wearing a seat belt, the NHTSA reports.
- No speeding – Exceeding the speed limit is a factor in close to half of all teen driving accidents, the NHTSA states.
- No extra passengers – The NHTSA estimates that teens are more than twice as likely to engage in dangerous behavior when there are other teens in the car.
In addition to the above rules, parents should place limits on their teens’ driving on weekend nights, when the highest concentration of teen accidents occur. Talking with your teen and setting the appropriate limits may save their lives and the lives of their passengers and friends.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident involving a teen driver, contact Memphis car accident attorney David E. Gordon to learn more about your legal rights and your options for seeking a just recovery. You may be eligible to be compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
Call or contact us online today. We can provide a free, immediate review of your case.