Car accidents are currently the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six teens between the ages of 16 to 19 years died each day in the U.S. in 2017.
One of the reasons for this is that a teen driver is more likely to underestimate a hazardous condition, and their inexperience makes it harder to judge how to react appropriately in a dangerous situation.
Whether you are a teen driver or a parent of a teen driver, knowing the leading causes of these fatal accidents can help. You can teach your teen driver about the risks and how they should act while on the road. As a driver, knowing the risk factors can make you more aware while you drive as well.
Reasons Fatal Teen Crashes Happen in Philadelphia – and How to Prevent Them
A teen driver is excited about their newly acquired independence. After all, they no longer need to rely on their parents to get to school, work, or social activities. Parents sit at home worry about their teen driver, and for a good reason: teen drivers are three times more likely than other age groups to be in a fatal accident.
Seven factors contribute to the increased rate of teen accidents:
The risk of collision is significantly higher during the first few months after getting a driver’s license, and a driver with fewer than two years of experience is less likely to react to dangerous driving situations properly.
Teens are excited to get on the road, and they may do so without thinking of the consequences of their actions. Also, good driving habits develop over time – something teens will not have.
Any activity that takes your eyes off the road ahead or takes your mind away from the task of driving is a distraction. While one study found that adults text more than teens on the road, 72 percent of those ages 19 to 24 admit to texting while driving. Also, 58 percent of teens in that same survey admitted to talking on their phone while driving.
While texting and talking on the phone are the biggest distractions, teens may also become distracted by eating, adjusting the radio, or talking with passengers.
Not Using a Seatbelt
Seatbelts save lives, and they significantly reduce the risk of an accident fatality. Teens endanger themselves by not using this essential safety device. Teen drivers must also ensure their passengers wear seatbelts. In an accident, a passenger not wearing a belt could cause injuries to others in the car when their body moves inside the vehicle.
Drinking and Driving
Teen drivers might be underage, but that doesn’t stop them from drinking and driving. Driving while under the influence turns any situation deadly, and teen drivers are more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors – including driving while intoxicated. When you combine intoxication with their lack of driving experience, you see why it is a common cause of fatal accidents.
Teen drivers are less likely to obey the rules of the road or use caution. They might speed through neighborhoods, drive faster on the freeway, or fail to look when passing through the intersection. All of these actions can result in catastrophic car accidents.
Drowsy driving is becoming a real problem in the United States, and teens are just as likely to be drowsy on the road as adults. In fact, with their later nights and inexperience, they may be less likely to recognize that they are too tired to drive safely
How You Can Help Prevent Teen Accidents
Whether you are a teen driver or you’re a parent of a teen driver, there are ways you can protect your teen from fatal accidents or making mistakes that could result in a severe car accident. Some things you can do include:
- Not allowing friends in the car: Teens are not experienced enough when they first get their driver’s license. So, one of the best ways to keep them safe is to not allow your teen driver to have anyone in the car for the first six months after getting their license.
- Lead by example: If you want your teen driver to wear a seatbelt or not text and drive, lead by example. Teens often mimic the actions of their parents. Set an example of what good driving behaviors are, including not being distracted, wearing your seatbelt, and obeying traffic signs and signals.
- Limit night driving: If you can, limit the hours of the day your teen drives – especially after 10:00 pm. Most fatal accidents occur overnight. Therefore, limiting how often they drive during those hours could save a life.
- Consider defensive driving courses: Some states offer defensive driving courses, while other times you will need a private program. Your insurance company might provide you with a discount if your teen completes the defensive driving program, too – which makes it a win-win for you both. Defensive driving courses help your teen be more aware of how to react properly on the road, safe driving techniques, and risk factors.
- Talk about driving under the influence: While it is hard not being the “cool” parent, you need to have that difficult conversation with your teen about driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Was Your Teen Injured in an Accident? Contact an Attorney
While teens are prone to car accidents, a teen in a crash does not mean that it was automatically their fault. If your teen was seriously injured in a car accident caused by someone’s negligence, your family might qualify for compensation.
Speak with an attorney to explore your options. In some cases, you can get compensation for lost wages, medical costs, and the pain and suffering the accident has caused.