Teenage Drivers: A Factor in Many Car Accidents

Did you know that teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any age group? It’s true, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Additionally, car accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for teens in our country. In fact, teen driving is a factor in many collisions for the following five reasons:

  1. Teens lack wisdom and experience. Young drivers don’t have previous knowledge and experience to draw from when they are faced with unsafe conditions on the road. In fact, they often underestimate dangerous conditions or they cannot recognize hazardous situations. Because they are new to driving and have spent fewer hours in the driver’s seat than any other age group, they often make poor decisions that can increase their risk of crashing.  Even though Virginia has license regulations designed to reduce teen crashes, a teen’s crash risk is very high during the first several months after getting a driver’s license, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  2. Teens text and drive. It’s no surprise that most teenagers can’t put down their cell phones—even when they drive. Maybe they text at the wheel because they are afraid they are going to miss something or maybe it is because they are fearless. Whatever the reason, texting and driving has claimed around 3,000 teen lives every year, according to a study by Cohen Children’s Medical Center. And teens do more than just text at the wheel; many teen drivers have admitted to reading emails, posting on social media sites, and even watching videos while driving. While these activities are against the law in Virginia and Washington, D.C., many teen drivers continue to text and drive and use their cell phones at the wheel.
  3. Teens are distracted at the wheel. Teenagers are much more distracted at the wheel than any other age group. In fact, new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found distracted driving among teen drivers to be a very serious problem. Researchers analyzed crash videos of teen drivers and found that six out of ten moderate-to-severe teen crashes involved distraction at the wheel. Although texting and driving as well as other cell phone use did cause many teen drivers to crash, other distractions that were factors in teen auto accidents included: interacting with passengers, looking at something in the car, looking at something outside of the vehicle, singing and dancing to music, grooming, and reaching for an object. Shockingly, the research revealed that interacting with passengers was the most common form of distraction that led to a teen car accident. It is important for teens and parents of teens to know that the risk of crashing increases with the number of passengers in a teen’s vehicle, according to the CDC.
  4. Teens speed. Many teens—especially boys—are more likely to participate in risky driving behaviors such as speeding and following other vehicles too closely. “Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2012, 35% were speeding at the time of the crash,” according to the CDC.
  5. Teens drink and drive. Even though drinking alcohol is illegal for this age group, somehow teens get their hands on alcohol and underage drinking and driving takes place. In 2013, 17% of drivers aged 16 to 20 who were in deadly car crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, according to the CDC. The truth of the matter is that drinking any amount of alcohol can increase a teen’s crash risk.

Car accidents occur daily in this nation and are responsible for killing about six teenagers a day, reports the CDC. Sadly, most of these fatal crashes are preventable and teens and parents of teen drivers need to stay educated on teen driving dangers in an effort to keep teenagers safe on the road. Because we are passionate about reducing teenage driving accidents, we urge you to share our article on your favorite social media site to promote teen driving safety.