Any parent of a teenager worries about their teen's driving. Unfortunately, we have good cause to be worried. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens aged 16 - 19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately six teenagers in the United States are killed in car accidents every day.
This is tragic. Even one life cut short in a car accident is too many.
Even if an accident is not fatal, it can still lead to serious injuries that can affect young people for the remainder of their lives. For example, in recent years, nearly 250,000 teens (per year) went to the emergency room because of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.
At FleschLaw, we are dedicated to making our community a safe place for everyone. With that goal in mind, we have created an extended blog series in which we will examine each of the leading factors of teen driving accidents, and discuss how best to safeguard teens against behaviors that can increase the danger of being in a car accident. It is our hope that the information in this blog series can raise awareness about this troublesome issue.
Please take time to read these short informational posts and share them with anyone who has a teen driver; the more people who get the facts about teen driving accidents, the more likely we are, as a community, to make Colorado roads safer for our friends, family members and neighbors.
The Seven Leading Causes Of Teen Car Crashes
Below, we have listed the seven leading causes of accidents for teen drivers (according to the CDC). Follow the links in each section to learn more about these particularly dangerous factors that contribute to teen driving accidents.
Cause 1: Driver Inexperience
"An old saying is that the best teacher is experience. Unfortunately, when it comes to driving, the lessons taught to inexperienced drivers can be tragic."
Learn more in our first post of this series.
Cause 2: Driving With Teen Passengers
"While learning to drive and gaining that type of independence can be an extremely exciting experience, it can also be a very dangerous one. With that freedom comes a lot of responsibility, especially if your child plans to drive his or her friends around."
See what you can do to prevent this in part two of our series.
Cause 3: Driving At Night
"According to data compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, nearly 60 percent of all fatalities in teen car crashes occur between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., despite significantly fewer drivers being out on the road."
Read "Night driving tips for teens" for more information.
Cause 4: Not Using Seat Belts
"...until cars drive themselves, the oldest, and perhaps greatest, safety technology in modern vehicles remains the seatbelt. Over its decades of its use, seatbelts have repeatedly been shown to reduce the risk of fatality and serious injury in a car crash."
Learn more in our post "A seatbelt: The car's original safety technology."
Cause 5: Distracted Driving
"According to a new study by the Transportation Vehicle Safety Policy Research Program at the University of Iowa, teens are more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors than other segments of the population..."
Read more about this study's findings and other related information in our post "Distracted driving is still a problem for teens."
Cause 6: Reckless Driving
"Typical causes of teen accidents include inexperience, a tendency to drive distracted and an increased likelihood to engage in other reckless behavior behind the wheel. It turns out much of this behavior can be attributed to the teen brain."
Learn more about the studies and data that have led to this conclusion.
Cause 7: Impaired Driving
"But teens still drive impaired. Part of the reason is that teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors than other segments of the population. Still, in part due to the constant messaging about its dangers, accidents involving drunk driving have decreased in recent years."
Learn how alcohol, as well as other substances that cause impairment such as marijuana, continue to play a role in teen car accidents.
Is There Anything Parents Can Do?
While there is no way to eliminate risk, the good news is that most of the leading causes of teen accidents are preventable. Research has shown that parents can take certain actions that can help their teens reduce the risk of an accident.
For example, the CDC recommends parents provide at least 30 hours of supervised driving practice in a variety of locations and times of day. Parents can have their teens sign a contract that they will not get into a vehicle when the driver has been drinking. Parents can set a curfew to so their teens avoid nighttime driving.
Although these solutions may not be perfect, and there will always be at least some element of danger for teens - or any other drivers - when they get behind the wheel, this is at least a start.