What Causes Teen-Related Car Accidents?
Teenagers are affected by motor vehicle accidents more than any other age group. Although it is not possible to be with teenage drivers all the time, providing them with a solid foundation about safe driving and frequently reminding them about it can help. AAA has been researching teen-related car accidents for many years. Cellphones and other electronic devices are often involved in these accidents. A recent AAA article claimed that cellphones are one of the most common distractions that increases accidents for teenage drivers. There are other risk factors as well; teenagers have less driving experience and are less equipped to respond appropriately when faced with hazardous situations.
How Many Teenagers Die in Car Accidents?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2018, close to 2,500 teenagers between 13 to 19 years old lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes, and 285,000 were treated in emergency rooms for severe injuries. Teenagers between 16 to 19 years old are three times more likely to be in fatal crashes than drivers who are 20 years old or older.
According to the CDC, the fatality rate for young male drivers is twice as high compared to females. Furthermore, the risk of a crash increases with each additional teenage passenger in the car. Another study by the National Household Travel Survey reported that the accident risk is even higher during the first few months after teenagers receive their licenses.
What are the Most Common Distractions for Teenagers?
Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents. The AAA study concluded that distractive passengers and cellphone use are main contributors to teen-related car crashes. Other common distractions include looking at objects inside and outside of the vehicle, music, grooming, and reaching for something in the car. According to data by AAA, drivers who use their cellphones while driving take their eyes away from the road for about 4.1 seconds. It was also found that teenage drivers who were on cellphones during rear-end accidents did not steer or brake in over five percent of reported crashes.
AAA also studies speed-related accidents, which is common amongst teenagers. The agency also surveyed driving instructors. According to the driving instructors, one of the top three errors among teenage drivers is speeding. Other issues included poor visual scanning and distractions.
Is Drunk Driving Still an Issue for Teenage Drivers?
A 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that 5.4 percent of U.S. high school students were drinking one or more times within a 30-day period before the survey was taken. After school drinking was more common for students who were male, older, and had lower school grades. It was also found that 16.7 percent of these students had been in vehicles with drivers who were drinking one or more times during the same time period.
According to the CDC, 15 percent of drivers between 16 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal car accidents in 2018 had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. Drunk driving rates are higher among male drivers compared to female motorists. Twenty percent of male drivers between 15 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal accidents had been drinking alcohol.
How can Parents Help Teenage Drivers?
The AAA advises parents to act as driving coaches and to monitor their teenagers’ driving behaviors. Stay actively involved by setting a good example, such as avoiding distractions or speeding. Many parents draft parent-teen driving contracts that establish rules, such as putting phones on Do Not Disturb mode when in the car, no drinking or smoking, and only one passenger in the car at a time. Breaking any of the rules means a suspension of driving privileges. Moreover, there should be ongoing conversations about driving safety.
Signing up a teen driver for an education course can also be helpful since not all parents are able to teach their own children how to drive. High schools and the AAA can offer information on finding professional driving instructors who can teach teenagers what they need to know.
What are the Best Safety Tips for Teenagers?
Some important safety tips for teenagers include:
Check Car Features: Often, teenagers quickly drive off as soon as they get in their cars, but safe driving begins before starting the vehicle. The mirrors and windshields should be checked, as well as the gas and headlights. The cellphone should be put on Do Not Disturb and placed somewhere where it cannot be seen, and seat belts should be secured. Car crash injuries are less likely to be fatal when drivers and passengers are wearing their seat belt. Other possible distractions should also be avoided.
Minimize Passengers: Passengers can certainly be distracting, especially when both drivers and passengers are in the same age group. For this reason, it is often safer for teenagers to drive alone than to have a friend or two in the car.
Limit Nighttime Driving: Driving at night is also more dangerous, especially for inexperienced drivers. Many parents enforce curfews for this very reason; teenagers should also be instructed to drive slower at dusk and at night.
Avoid Distractions: Paying attention to the road at all times is another important safety tip, no matter what time of day. This is not an easy task for everyone, and even if there are no cellphones or other passengers, people often daydream behind the wheel. Parents who spend time with their teenagers when driving can do their best to instill the habit of staying focused. This is a good foundation for safe driving.
Learn Traffic Rules: Teenagers also need to understand the rules of the road, which comes with experience. Parents and driving instructors can teach them the importance of following speed limits, changing lanes correctly, and how to drive and stop at intersections. Other aggressive driving behaviors should always be discouraged, such as tailgating and running red lights. Teenagers should also be reminded that unsafe driving puts their lives at risk; about two-thirds of those that were hurt or killed in teen-related were other motorists.
It only takes one driver error to cause a serious motor vehicle accident, and teenagers are more at risk for this than other age groups. For trusted legal guidance with any type of car crash, reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Encourage Parents to Help Their Teenage Drivers Stay Safe
Teenagers are vulnerable to accidents. If you were injured by a teenage driver or your child was in an accident, contact a Delaware car accident lawyer at McCann & Wall, LLC. Complete our online form or call us at 302-888-1221 for a free consultation today. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including Dover, Middletown, and Newark.