The teenage years are one of the riskiest times to drive a vehicle. Automobile crashes are the leading cause of preventable death for teens, as stated by the National Safety Council (NSC). In 2020 in the U.S., approximately eight teens died and hundreds more were injured in motor vehicle crashes every day, as reported by CDC. A total of 2,276 individuals were killed in crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 18, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Crash risk is particularly high during the first few months after a teen gets a driver’s license.
What Risky Things Do Teenagers Do Behind the Wheel?
Because of their immaturity, lack of experience, and lack of driving skills, teens have a higher rate of fatal crashes. The following are some reckless things teenagers may do behind the wheel of a vehicle:
- Driving distracted: Inexperience makes teen drivers more susceptible to distraction. One in three teens say they have texted while driving, as stated by NHTSA. In addition to texting and talking on the phone, teens can be distracted by eating, drinking, applying makeup, taking pictures, playing loud music, or talking to passengers, particularly when other teenagers are in the vehicle. One study found that teens with one teenage peer in the car were two and a half times more likely to engage in risky behavior than when driving alone.
- Driving impaired: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have deadly consequences for teenagers. Even though the minimum drinking age is 21, 19% of drivers ages 15 to 18 involved in fatal crashes in 2020 had been drinking, as stated by NHTSA. Drugs, including cannabis, can also significantly impair driving ability.
- Speeding: The faster a vehicle is traveling, the more likely it is to crash, and the greater the impact of a collision. A study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that teens were involved in 19,447 speeding-related crashes from 2000 to 2011. Teens’ speeding behavior may increase over time, as they gain confidence as drivers, according to NHTSA.
- Not wearing seat belts: NHTSA reports that seat belt use is the lowest among teen drivers. Most teenagers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were unbuckled, as were nine out of 10 of their passengers who died. Teenagers may feel invincible and tend to make poor decisions regarding their safety.
- Driving drowsy: Teens today are busy with school, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and hanging out with their friends. When they compromise on sleep, it can affect attention, alertness, judgment, reaction time, and decision making capabilities. Drivers 17 to 23 years old have a higher risk of drowsy driving accidents, as stated by NHTSA.
What Is a Parent’s Role in Teen Driving Safety?
To help teenagers stay safe behind the wheel, parents should get involved, monitor teen drivers closely, and talk to them about the rules and responsibilities associated with driving. It is never a one-time conversation. Parents need to remind teens about the dangers of speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving, and other risky behavior. They should set a good example, make sure teen drivers get enough sleep at night, and establish rules and consequences for breaking them. NHTSA recommends holding off on buying your teenager a new car, as teens are more likely to speed when driving their own vehicle than they would be in the family car.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted teen driver, you may have a claim for compensation. Your damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other losses. Contact Allen Law at (843) 882-5005 to get experienced Charleston personal injury attorneys on your side.