If you have a teenager in your life, the desire to protect them can be intense. And that desire is never more realized than when a teen learns to drive.
The facts are sobering: in the United States, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens. According to CDC, 2,800 teens ages 13-19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, with an additional 227,000 teens injured. That’s an average of 8 teens killed daily in car crashes.
As a personal injury attorney, ReShea Balams sees the pain and loss families face after an accident caused by a teen driver. The anguish of parents whose teens caused an accident is equally heartrending. The staggering, far-reaching consequences of an accident involving a teenage driver are devastating.
If your teen is approaching licensure, it is essential that you impress safe driving practices upon them. Familiarizing them with the statistics, areas of highest danger, and safe driving practices can be critical in saving lives – theirs, and others.
Top Causes of Collisions for Teen Drivers
The highest risk category for young drivers is males ages 16-19. While all recently licensed teens are at the highest risk for being involved in a collision, young male drivers are 3x higher risk than females of the same age. For all teenage drivers, each of the following factors can dramatically increase their likelihood of being in a crash.
In a high-stress situation (or even a more mundane scenario), a new driver lacks the experience to anticipate dangers and deal with problems as they arise. Inclement weather is also a challenge for new drivers, with inexperience in the conditions causing a notable increase in their risk factors.
While driving is riskier for all drivers between 9pm-6am, teens face significantly higher risks when driving at night.
Teen drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in a collision when they are carrying other teen or young adult passengers. The risk increases with each additional passenger.
In 2020, 50% of teen crash deaths occurred on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Seat belt use.
Teen drivers are the least likely among all groups of drivers to wear a seat belt. In 2020, 56% of teen driver and passenger deaths (ages 16-19) were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.
Statistics from 2019 show that 39% of high school students admitted to texting or emailing while driving within 30 days of taking the survey. Social media use is equally dangerous for drivers.
Teenagers are statistically more likely to speed. In 2020, statistics on drivers aged 15-20 showed that 25% of male drivers and 18% of female drivers were speeding at time of the fatal collision.
Teen and young adult drivers are more likely to follow dangerously close to other vehicles, more likely to speed, more likely to behave recklessly while driving (especially with young adult or teen passengers), and more likely to make dangerous lane changes or illegal turns. Each of these activities dramatically increases the likelihood of being involved in a serious car accident.
It is illegal to consume alcohol in the United States before age 21. Despite this, a shocking 29% of 15–20-year-old drivers who were killed in a collision had some level of alcohol in their system, according to 2020 statistics. Young drivers are much more likely to be involved in collision if under the influence of alcohol, regardless of the level of intoxication.
Many substances can cause impairment, including illicit drugs, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, alcohol, and marijuana. Marijuana is the most common substance after alcohol that causes impaired driving.
Driving while tired.
Drowsy drivers are a significant hazard to themselves and others. Unfortunately, teens may not be aware of the dangers involved and must learn to avoid driving while tired.
Teach Safe Driving Practices
The Parent-Teen Agreement provides a template that can help teen drivers and parents clarify safe driving standards and rules for young drivers. In addition, parents, older friends, and other family members can help by modeling excellent driving habits and providing clear and consistent instruction for new drivers. Your teen’s adoption of safe driving practices will help protect them from the dangers associated with newly licensed drivers and can prevent another heartbreaking loss.
While we genuinely wish that accidents did not occur, statistics prove this is not a reality. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a teen driver or a driver of any age, please contact our office. We work with you and your family to gather the facts and work to achieve the resolution you deserve.