Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for US teens. And though they drive less than all but the oldest drivers, teens are the individuals most frequently injured or killed in automobile accidents.
We have written in the past about families who are victims of automotive accidents and who have received restitution in the aftermath of unfathomable loss due to the negligence of others. We also have a safe cell usage contract for you and your teenager to sign. This contract will help you both understand the repercussions of teenage driving in the age of the cell phone.
While we all depend on our cars in order to navigate our busy lives, as we all know that life can take a dramatic turn for the worse in the blink of an eye or the seconds it takes to respond to a text.
The sad reality is that when our teenage drivers are at risk of crash, injury, or even death.
Rather than focus on helping families navigate the judicial system after tragedy strikes, this is the first article in a series devoted to providing families and teens with the information they need to prevent tragic teen automotive accidents in the first place.
Read on for facts and data about teenage drivers and key tips for helping your teen become the safest driver possible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teen drivers fact sheet provides families and teens alike with staggering statistics. In 2017, the most recent year data were available, 2,364 teenage drivers in the United States between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed and around 300,000 were treated in emergency rooms and trauma centers for injuries sustained in automobile accidents.
This means that six teen drivers die every day and many many more are injured in motor vehicle crashes. Teen drivers are most at risk of serious injury or death during their first months of driving. While it should come as no surprise that the most dangerous driving year for teens occurs between the ages 16 and 17, it is still shocking that, per mile driven, 16-19 year olds are three times more likely to die in a car crash than drivers 20 years old or older.
According to the CDC, “crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure. Data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey indicates that the crash rate per mile driven is 1.5 times higher for 16-year-olds than it is for 18-19 year-olds.”
Within this age range, boys face a much greater risk of sustaining severe injury or experiencing a fatal motor vehicle accident than girls. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) research indicates that, while teenage boys and girls are both at increased risk of being involved in automotive crashes, the risk is much higher for boys. In 2016, for instance, “66% of youth ages 13 to 19 killed in motor vehicle crashes (1,858 individuals) were male. Boys are more likely to speed, drive after drinking,” and boys are “less likely to wear a seatbelt than girls.” Male teenage drivers died in car crashes more than twice as often as their female counterparts of the same age.
Ultimately, automobile accidents are the most frequent cause of death for teens. It is clear that teen drivers face a greater risk than other drivers every time they sit behind the wheel. Most tragic of all, many of these fatalities could have been prevented.
But in order to take action to prevent them and to equip teen drivers to be as safe as possible, we have to first understand why the teen crash rate is so high and why, when they do crash, the results are so terrifying.
No one who has lived through the teen years would say that they’re easy, and anyone who lives with young adults trying to navigate their teen years would agree.
The reasons that teenagers are so tumultuous also happen to be the reasons that driving between the ages of 16 and 19 is such a risk. These reasons include, but are not limited to:
Frontal lobe development: Research completed by Daniel Keating and published in 2007 explains that teens have trouble recognizing possible or likely consequences for their actions and decisions because the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the part that is “responsible for making well-grounded decisions and judgments.”
The frontal lobe is not fully developed until individuals reach their mid-20s. Because of this, teen drivers are much more likely than older drivers to take risks like driving without wearing seatbelts, driving too fast for conditions, driving while distracted, or driving while under the influence.
Lack of experience: Driving is complicated, a fact that, as experienced drivers, we often overlook. The years and miles that we have accumulated mean that we have acquired and honed innumerable driving and road safety skills. Experienced drivers often possess the ability to weigh and determine the appropriate response to a given driving scenario, and to problem solve while speeding down the highway.
Our teen drivers have not had the chance yet to learn, acquire, and practice this complicated capability.
Consider the simple act of observing the highway and the cars around you as you drive. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that new or young drivers demonstrate different visual scanning behaviors than their more experienced, older counterparts, which “may limit the ability of younger, novice drivers to detect high-risk situations and make it less likely that young drivers recognize and respond correctly to hazards and unexpected situations that might occur while driving.”
Further, IIHS research suggests that, “compared to older, more experienced drivers, even small emergencies are more likely to escalate when a youth is driving.”
At Marks Law Group, LLC, we are committed to supporting accident victims and families. While we are here to help you navigate the judicial system in the aftermath of the loss or injury of your teen, we would prefer to provide you with information that can help prevent that loss or injury in the first place. For more information on specific ways that parents can support their teen’s good driving habits, check out our forthcoming article on specific ways you can keep your teen safe while driving.
If your family has experienced the unimaginable loss or catastrophic injury of your teen as a result of the negligence of others, there is restitution and a path forward for you and your family. At Marks Law Group, LLC, we can help you begin to pick up the pieces after a serious crash involving your teenage driver. An car accident lawyer will carefully investigate and build your case meticulously. Call us today!