Many parents look forward to the day they see their teenager behind the wheel of their first car, but teenage driving isn’t without its fair share of risk. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S., and drivers 16-19 years of age, male or female, have the highest traffic violation and crash rates of any other age group.
Drivers in that age group are also nearly three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers aged 20 and older. Seven teenagers in this age range died every day in 2011 from motor vehicle injuries.
So what makes young drivers so much more prone to car accidents, and how can parents protect them on the road?
Surprisingly, it has very little to do with experience and everything to do with the mentality of the driver.
Teenagers often drive with teenage friends, and that extra peer pressure can be disastrous. The risk of a car crash increases with each teen passenger that enters a car, and risky driving behaviors almost always increase when male teenage passengers are present. For instance, teens with passengers are more likely than older drivers to maintain a dangerously close following distance to other cars.
Because of this, teens should be taught to use extra caution when transporting passengers, or encouraged to wait to have passengers until they’re sure of their driving skills.
Teens also have the lowest rate of seatbelt use than any other age group. In fact, a study in 2013 revealed that a mere 55% of high school students said they always wore seatbelts when riding with another person. Seatbelt use is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent car accident injuries, so encouraging seatbelt use is a great way to keep teen drivers safe.
Of course, there is some element of experience. Teens are more likely than older drivers to fail to recognize hazards and underestimate dangerous situations. Because of this, it’s crucial for parents and educators to teach teen drivers how to identify danger and respond accordingly.
Most teenagers will end up on the road eventually, so make sure to arm them with all the knowledge and information they need to be safe.
If you’re teenager was involved in a car crash and is in need of legal advice or a personal injury lawyer, contact Burger Law for your free consultation.