Obtaining a driver’s license is a rite of passage for many teenagers. It is seen as a gateway to becoming an adult and a symbol of freedom. Do teens realize though the dangers and responsibilities that go along with having that license? Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers 16-19 years old. In fact, the Center for Disease Control’s Injury Center reports that in a single year, six teens in that category die every day from motor vehicle related injuries.
There are a number of factors that contribute to crashes involving teen drivers including the much-talked-about issue of distracted driving. Talking or texting on the phone, eating, playing with the radio and having additional teenagers in the car are all dangerous distractions. While these distractions are known to young drivers, they engage in the behavior anyway. State Farm Insurance found that 95% of drivers ages 16-19 said texting is a major distraction. However, 44% of them still do it. Other major factors that add to teen crashes include:
- Not wearing a seatbelt: an alarming number of teens do not wear a seatbelt as either a driver or passenger. In fact, teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use compared with other age groups.
- Driving at night and driving drowsy: fatal crashes occur more often at night for all drivers, with teens at a much higher risk. Driving late at night or in the early morning increases the risk of being too tired to get behind the wheel.
- Inexperience and recklessness: the risk of a teenager being involved in a crash is at its most within the first year of having a license. While young drivers may feel confident about their new-found skill, they actually underestimate their vulnerability when it comes to assessing risky and hazardous situations.
Parents have great influence on how teenagers behave on the road. The main objective is to be proactive –spend a lot of time with your new driver to supervise how he or she is doing under various conditions. While it may be a nerve-racking experience, remain calm so the driver remains calm, and offer up constructive advice. Most importantly, practice what you preach and set a good example. Stay off the phone, wear your seatbelt, avoid speeding and don’t engage in other reckless behavior such as drunk driving and road rage. Doing so will show your teen driver that this behavior is NEVER acceptable.
While getting a license is a major part of a teenager’s life, it is obviously a dangerous one. Even with precautions, teen drivers are at risk for crashes more than anyone else, even seniors. They lack the skill, judgment and maturity that comes with being an experienced driver. If you have been injured in a crash involving a teenage driver, it is not something to disregard. Contact an experienced attorney at Finz & Finz, P.C., to help get the reparations you are entitled to.