Brian White | November 11, 2020 | Auto Accidents
Teens look forward to getting a driver’s license. A license can mean more freedom, a part-time job, and hanging out with friends. It is a significant step toward adulthood. At the same time that teens look forward to this step, their parents worry. Much of that worry is for good reason.
Car accidents were the second leading cause of death among teens in the U.S. in 2018. This statistic makes it important to understand the reasons why teens have accidents and to help them develop tools to avoid them. Many states have Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs to help teens gain experience and understand risk and how to cope with it.
Understanding risks and how to better cope can help teens stay safe. Here are the top eight reasons that teens are involved in traffic accidents.
Teens Are Generally Inexperienced Between the Wheel
Driving a car requires constant assessment of risk and making decisions based on the risk assessed. Over time, drivers become more skilled at both parts of this equation. Teens who have been driving for a short period of time are just less experienced at-risk assessment and making corrections.
Sometimes, driving decisions need to be made quickly and inexperienced drivers often lack enough experience to make the correct decision. This is why Graduated Driver License programs are effective. These programs provide education and allow teens to drive in safer ways.
Teens Driving With Other Teens in the Car
The risk of accidents increases when a teen driver has other teens in the car. It can increase by 44% with the presence of one teen. That number doubles with the presence of another teen.
Teens driving with other teens are often distracted from road conditions by the energy and activity going on in the car. It can be a dangerous situation, especially when coupled with other factors such as excessive speed, alcohol, or driving late at night.
Driving Under the Influence
Teens experiment with both drugs and alcohol. Teens are not only less experienced drivers but also less likely to really understand the increased risk of ingesting an intoxicant and then getting behind the wheel. Any amount of an intoxicant can increase risky behaviors when driving and slow down reaction times. The combination is dangerous for any driver.
Driving While Distracted
Cell phones, texting, radios, conversation, eating, drinking, putting on makeup. Engaging in any of these activities while driving can distract a driver enough to cause an accident.
In Texas, it is against the law for teens to use a cell phone or any other wireless communication device while driving. This includes any hands-free device.
Driving Late at Night
Statistics show that teen drivers are more likely to have an accident when driving late at night as opposed to during the day or early evening hours. When driving late at night a teen is more likely to be tired or to have consumed drugs or alcohol. Either of these can lead to decreased reaction times, making an accident more likely. Many Graduated Driver License Programs prohibit late-night driving for newly licensed drivers.
Impulsive and Aggressive Driving Behaviors
There are a number of impulsive or aggressive driving behaviors that a teen driver may engage in. Speeding was shown to be involved in 30% of male driver fatal teen accidents and 18% of female teen driver fatalities in a 2018 study. Inexperienced teen drivers are also more likely to leave less space between their car and the car in front of them. When coupled with increased speed, this can be a deadly combination. Other types of reckless behaviors include unsafe lane changes, sudden turns without signaling, and tailgating.
Being a Teenage Male vs. Being a Teenaged Female
Statistically, the risk for accidents is highest in teenage males, ages 16-19. Almost 2 of every 3 teens killed in a car accident in 2018 were males between the ages of 16-19. The risk drops significantly at ages 20 and above. Teens drive many fewer miles than adults, but each mile they drive is riskier.
Decreasing risk factors, educating young drivers, and using Graduated Driver License programs all help keep teens safe on the road. Texas employs a Graduated Driver License program that educates and phases in driving from ages 14 to 18. At 18, a teen can apply for a full, unrestricted driver’s license.
It is important to keep your teen and others safe on the road. If you have questions about teen road safety, teen driving restrictions, or any accident involving a teen, bring your questions to an experienced personal injury attorney. We will work with you every step of the way.