Every teen looks forward to the day they can get their driver’s license and get behind the wheel. While driving a car can be a thrill, teenage drivers and their parents or guardians must understand the hazards that put young individuals at a higher risk of causing an accident.
What The Statistics Say
According to data from the NHTSA, the probability of teenage drivers aged 16 to 19 causing an accident is approximately three times higher than drivers above 20. In 2019 alone, around 2400 teenagers aged 13 and 16 died on the road, with 258,000 others treated for accident-related injuries.
Many factors contribute to the high likelihood of teen drivers causing an accident compared to older drivers. But these factors boil down to inexperience and the tendency of teenage drivers to engage in risky behavior while on the wheel.
Experienced drivers are typically more aware of dangerous situations; some learn through costly mistakes. But the teen drivers’ recognition of dangerous situations may be limited, putting them at the risk of making critical decision errors that can turn tragic.
For example, an inexperienced driver can make the wrong judgment in terms of speed and distance of an oncoming vehicle and enter an intersection at the wrong time resulting in a collision.
Nighttime driving increases the risk of a crash, even for the most experienced driver. Add inexperience of a teenage driver to the mix, and nighttime driving becomes particularly dangerous. While your teen is still fresh at driving, it would help to set some rules like limits on the hours your child cannot drive.
Distracted Driving, Speeding, And DUIs
Distracted driving is also a major factor in teenage driver accidents. A National Youth Behavior Survey conducted in 2019 showed that just over 30% of teen drivers used their phone to text or email while on the wheel within the 30 days of the survey. “Texting or writing an email is the worst form of distraction which gets persons eyes, mind, from controlling the vehicle,” said Attorney Jim Hurley of Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers.
Another major cause of accidents in teenage drivers is speeding, which accounted for 31% male and 17% of female teens that died in road accidents in 2019. Speeding makes it harder for drivers to control their vehicles, as well as make sit harder to react in time to potential road hazards. Speeding can also become more risky in inclement weather which teens may not have much experience driving in, such as wet or icy roads.
In addition to distracted driving and speeding, driving under the influence is also a serious concern for teen drivers. State laws prohibit drivers under 21 from driving after consuming any alcohol. Still, as many as 15% of all teenage fatalities involved drivers with a BAC of above 0.08.
The Parent’s Role
Unfortunately, you will be liable for the accidents caused by your child if the vehicle is registered and insured under your name. This means you must play a role in ensuring that your teen is safe while on the road and protect yourself from liability.
For example, you could set the ground rules around driving and follow through with imposing consequences for a violation of the rules, like withdrawing their driving privileges. While it may seem like an overly strict approach, it can save your loved one’s life and the lives of others on the road.