Handing over the keys to the family car, or one that is newly purchased, to your teen is nerve-racking for most parents. Parents may do all they can to instill good driving skills and encourage their teens to pay attention to the road, but there are still far too many crashes involving teen drivers.
During National Teen Driver Safety Week we want to talk about the five most common causes of teen driver crashes. At Anderson & Cummings, we have seen firsthand the devastation created by many types of collisions, but those involving young teens are especially tragic.
Our Fort Worth car crash attorneys are dedicated to helping victims injured by the negligence of other drivers. If you have been injured in a collision, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your medical costs and other losses.
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What Do Studies Reveal About Teen Drivers?
Newly licensed teens and teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 years are statistically more likely to cause a crash. This is largely due to inexperience, limited driving skills and immaturity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. Based on their studies, approximately eight teens die and hundreds more are injured every day in car crashes.
Newly licensed 16-year-old teen drivers have the greatest risk of causing a crash. However, even 16-19-year-old drivers with a bit more experience are a high crash risk, being three times as likely to cause a crash as drivers 20 years and older (per mile driven).
What Are Five Common Causes of Teen Driver Crashes?
Although many teen drivers gain some skills through behind-the-wheel training, they do not yet have sufficient experience. This, along with other factors can greatly increase their risk of causing a crash.
Five common causes of teen driver crashes include:
Although texting and driving remains one of the leading causes of crashes with teen drivers, there are many other distractions, including:
- Texting while driving or parking
- Eating or drinking on the way to school
- Taking selfies or videos while driving
- Messing about with GPS, the radio, and other electronic devices
- Playing music too loudly
- Talking, joking around or getting rowdy with other passengers
Speeding and Other Forms of Reckless Driving
Teens are experiencing freedom and independence for the first time in their lives and are more likely to speed. Unfortunately of all fatal crashes occurring in the U.S., about 35 percent involved male teen drivers and 18 percent involved female teen drivers. Other forms of reckless driving by teens include urban and street racing, tailgating, lane changes, including darting in and out of lanes without signaling, and running through red lights.
Drowsy Driving/Driving at Night
Driving while drowsy is not just a problem among more experienced drivers. Teens, who tend to have a lot of activities and homework, still find time to go out with friends or party. Teens and young adults driving home late at night are much more prone to becoming drowsy en route and nodding off at the wheel.
It is also true that driving at night, even when alert, is riskier than any other time of day. Drivers may be more likely to crash due to decreased visibility. They also have less experience reacting if they unexpectedly encounter a road hazard, such as a deer in the road.
Driving With Teen Passengers in the Car
According to the CDC, a teen’s risk of causing a crash increases significantly with each teen passenger that gets into the car. In addition to being a considerable distraction, they can also incite teens to engage in other types of reckless driving behaviors, such as speeding or drinking and driving.
Studies show that teens do not drink and drive as often as adult drivers do. However, when it happens, the consequences are often much worse – statistically, the NHTSA says teens have a higher risk of a fatal crash when driving impaired.
How the Texas Graduated Driver License Program May Help Keep Teens Safer
Texas has a graduated driver license program that may help keep teen drivers safer by giving them a longer period to hone their driving skills and gain experience behind the wheel.
As the name implies, the Texas GDL program takes new drivers through three phases, which include:
- Phase 1: New drivers begin with a learner license, which they must hold for at least six months
- Phase 2: A provisional license is next – teen drivers must pass a driving exam to earn this license, and then there are still driving restrictions they must follow. The restrictions include not driving with more than one passenger under the age of 21, not driving between midnight and 5 a.m., and not using a wireless communications device, even hands-free, until they are 21 years old.
How You Can Help To Protect Your Teen Driver From a Serious Crash
There are many resources that provide useful information to both parents and their teens. A Texas news report provides some additional information for National Teen Driver Safety Week as well. The biggest tip is to remember that kids model what they see, especially as they get older.
Some simple tips for parents helping teens to become experienced and safe drivers include:
- Being available to drive with your teen – they need practice and having you in the car to observe and guide can be extremely helpful.
- Continue being a role model – essentially, following traffic laws, wearing your seat belt, not using your cell phone, etc. – all the things you want to see them doing.
- Give them varied driving experiences – For instance, driving with them at night, in bad weather, or on unfamiliar highways. It is also a good idea to talk to them about handling peer pressure and teach them what to do if a tire goes flat or the car breaks down.
- Stay involved – Your teen can continue to benefit from your insight and driving experience until you feel they have sufficient confidence and skills.
Contact Anderson & Cummings To Discuss Your Legal Options After a Crash
At Anderson & Cummings, we have been advocating for victims injured by negligent drivers for decades, and we are here to help.
Injured in a crash? Contact our law offices anytime, night or day, to request a free case review. There are no upfront costs or fees to hire our services. We only get paid if you do.
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