Teens are Three Times More at Risk for Fatal Car Wrecks Than Adults

According to AAA, drivers under the age of 18 are three times more likely to be in a fatal car wreck than adults. This is especially the case during the summer months—between Memorial Day and Labor Day, dubbed the “Deadliest 100 Days”—as novice and teen drivers flood the streets with abandon. The foundation’s study found that inexperience teamed with greater exposure to the road create a fatal combination for teen drivers. Moreover, the foundation also found that teens between the ages of 16 and 17 are:

  • Nine times more likely than adult drivers to be involved in an accident;
  • Six times more likely than adult drivers to be involved in a fatal accident;
  • Five times more likely than adult drivers between the ages 30-59 to be involved in an accident; and
  • Two times more likely than adult drivers between the ages 30-59 to be involved in a fatal accident.

Though teens are not technically adults, and though most parents’ insurance covers their teen drivers, an adolescent who causes a car accident in Dallas can still be held legally liable for the damage he or she causes. At Clark Law Group, our Dallas car accident lawyers want to help you keep your teen drivers safe from both accidents and from legal liability. This post is meant to help you do both.

Common Causes of Teen Accidents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,333 teens ages 16 to 19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2015, meaning that six teens died every day from car accident injuries. 221,313 teens were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in car crashes. With the numbers being as high as they are, parents and society members want to know, what is causing these accidents? Though there are a number of factors, a study by the New York Times explored the dangers in depth and concluded that passengers are a huge source of the problem.

Dr. Nichole Morris, a principal researcher at the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, postulated that adding even a single nonfamily passenger to a teen’s car while they were driving increased their risk of getting into an accident by 44%. The risk doubled with the addition of a second nonfamily passenger and quadrupled when three or more nonfamily passengers were present. She also noted that the risk was particularly high when all males were in a vehicle as opposed to a mix of males and females.

In addition to other passengers, distracted driving poses a huge threat to teen drivers, as well. Distracted driving is a term coined for any number of activities teens (and adult drivers) perform while driving, including texting, eating, changing the radio station, or simply talking to a passenger. While distracted driving is a serious problem for all age groups in today’s age, it is particularly threatening for young and inexperienced drivers, who are not entirely familiar with the road, the rules of the road, and basic driver etiquette.

How You Can Help Protect Your Teen

Though you cannot always be there to dictate what your child does and does not do when behind the wheel, you can set some guidelines and reinforce the consequences of breaking them and just hope that your teen respects you, themselves, and other passengers of the road enough to follow those guidelines. Some things you as a parent should do to protect your teen include:

  • Establish and enforce your own set of family rules, and lead by example. Make it a point to stow away all cell phones while driving, but be sure to place your phone in a place that is easily reached in the event of an emergency.
  • Do not allow your teen to drive with friends in the vehicle until they have had their license for a certain number of months (six to 12 would be safe, as most teen accidents occur within the first six months of a teen learning to drive).
  • Likewise, do not allow your teen to be passenger in a vehicle driven by a new driver.
  • Teach your teen that there is a time and place for loud music—behind the wheel of a vehicle is not one of them.
  • Teach your child to be particularly cautious in school zones, especially around their high school, as high schools have a particularly high concentration of young, inexperienced drivers.
  • If possible, invest in a vehicle with smart technology, which allows drivers to listen to and respond to texts via Bluetooth, and to answer phone calls the same way.

What to do if Your Teen is in an Accident

If your teen caused a car accident that resulted in the serious property damage or personal injury of another party, do not panic (though we understand that is easier said than done), and reach out to the Dallas car accident attorneys at Clark Law Group as soon as possible. Call (214) 438-1152 to schedule your private consultation today.

(image courtesy of Jean Gerber)

Categories: