Driving is an exciting rite of passage for many teenagers. It can also be highly dangerous: according to AAA, new teen drivers aged sixteen to seventeen are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic accident than adults. Injuries are also common in teen driving accidents. Protect the rights of your injured teenager by contacting an experienced West Palm Beach car accident attorney after any auto accident.
The Reasons Teen Drivers Face Greater Danger
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015 an average of six teenagers died every day from motor vehicle injuries. The New York Times explored the dangers of teen driving further. One researcher considered the ages of sixteen and seventeen to be the most dangerous of any life stage, because of the risks of teen driving. She summarized the situation in this manner: “Cars have gotten safer, roads have gotten safer, but teen drivers have not.”
These studies corroborate decades of previous data which has established just how dangerous teen drivers can be. But what, specifically, are the factors that cause this danger? And how can parents address these factors in order to reduce their teen driver’s risk of having a car accident?
Passengers are a critical problem for teen drivers. The New York Times article reported that adding one non-family passenger to a teen’s vehicle increased the odds of having an accident by forty-four percent. Interestingly, distraction was found to be highest when male teen drivers had male teen passengers in the car. Male drivers with female teen passengers drove more safely.
Distracted driving is another serious problem which has spread rapidly across America with the prevalence of smartphones. Teens are not immune to this trend: Forbes reports on a Governors Highway Safety Association study which found teens to be the largest age group of drivers who were distracted at the time of an accident. While distraction is dangerous for any driver, is is particularly problematic for young, inexperienced drivers who are not always prepared to deal with obstacles in the road. Surprisingly, this study also found that teens were the second-least likely age group to use a cell phone while driving. This suggests that, despite teens’ awareness of the risks of distracted driving, they are nonetheless still likely to crash on the relatively rare occasions when they do use a phone while driving.
Keeping Your Teen Driver Safe
Florida's Graduated Driver's License Laws provide a stepping stone for teens to learn how to be safe drivers on a graduated scale, earning more privileges as they get older and more experienced. But there are ways parents can help bolster teens' safety too.
- Ensure your teen has practical driving experience before driving in areas of heavy traffic. Practice driving in open, low-stress environments such as empty parking lots.
- Enact and enforce clear rules about distractions in the vehicle. Most teens have smartphones, and these devices distract even the most experienced drivers from conditions in the roadway. Teens should only be allowed to use smartphones while driving in the event of an emergency. Apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter should be entirely banned while driving.
- Smartphones are not the only driving distractions faced by teens: passengers pose a serious risk to driving safety. Consider the rules which will best protect your teen driver when passengers are in the vehicle.