Teen driver accidents are the leading cause of death for the 15 to 20 age group, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, more accidents occur in this age group than any other age group. There are several factors that contribute to these accidents, some of which are related to driving behavior and others to inexperience behind the wheel.
Texting and cell phone use can be deadly while driving. Drivers who use cell phones while driving are four times as likely to be involved in an injury accident, according to a study done by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Teen drivers are more likely to cause car accidents because of distractions than any other age group. Eleven percent of teens involved in fatal crashes were distracted, according to distraction.gov.
Driving with friends is another source of distraction for many teens. When transporting several teens, the risk of an accident caused by distraction is even greater.
Poor hazard detection and risk perception are also common causes of teen driver accidents. Novice drivers do not have the skills to gather information completely and determine whether or not it poses a risk. In addition, they often underestimate risks.
Many teen drivers may get a sense of overconfidence from driving and may engage in risky driving behavior like:
Alcohol and drugs often play a role in teen car accidents, too. In 2011, according to the NHTSA, 24 percent of young drivers who were involved in a fatal accident were drinking.
Night driving also leads to a higher risk of accidents. Teen drivers are more likely to get into accidents at night because of low visibility and inexperience differentiating between the various lighting situations. In addition, alcohol use, which can impair judgment and perception, is more common at night.
In 2011, 1,987 young drivers were killed in the United States, and 4,347 were involved in fatal crashes – that’s 10 percent of all drivers who were involved in fatal crashes. An additional 180,000 more were injured, according to NHTSA statistics. More than twice as many young male drivers were killed in traffic accidents compared to young female drivers.
Texas led the nation in fatal crashes involving young drivers in 2011 with 477 instances. Next on the list was California with 340 and Florida with 327.
Those injured by teen drivers – or teen drivers injured as a result of other motorists’ negligence – can recover compensation for their damages. Car accidents can cause serious injuries or even death. For those who survive, the injuries can be long-lasting and require many weeks or months of recovery.