Teen drivers are the highest-risk drivers in the United States, with teens aged 16-19 being at more risk for accidents than any other group in the United States. This trend is likely being exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, with long-term lockdowns in many states leading to less-experienced teen drivers beginning to spend time on the road.
Each day in 2019, about seven teenagers between the ages of 13-19 died in road crashes, with an overall death toll of about 2,400. Far more teens were injured, with more than 250,000 treated in emergency rooms throughout the country.
A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that more than 11,000 people died in traffic accidents in the third quarter of 2020, a more than 13% increase from 2019. Many of these fatalities involved teen drivers, who may have less refined driving skills than teens who received their license before the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns.
In fact, data from 2017 indicates that the crash rate per mile is 50% higher for 16-year-old drivers when compared to 18-19-year-old drivers, and less driving experience is likely to correlate with a higher rate of crashes.
In addition to the risk posed by inexperienced teen drivers, drivers overall have been shown to engage in riskier behavior during the COVID-19 crisis when compared to past years. This could be due to a variety of factors and may be partially a result of pent-up stress due to the social, emotional, and financial pressures associated with the pandemic. Traffic enforcement was also reduced during the height of the pandemic, making drivers less likely to obey speed limits, stop signs, red lights, and other common traffic rules.
Some of the major risks for teen drivers include speeding, failing to wear a seatbelt, texting while driving, and driving while intoxicated. A 2015-2019 study conducted by the GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association) determined that from 2015-2019, teens between 16-19 had proportionally more speeding-related fatal crashes than any other age group.
In addition, 38% of teens in a study conducted by the NSC (National Safety Council) said they drove and texted at least one time during the last month. In addition, those teens that also said they rarely use seatbelts reported that they were more than 20% more likely to text while driving. Teens in rural areas were especially more likely to engage in these behaviors, which is concerning due to the fact that crashes in rural areas are more likely to be fatal than those that occur in suburban or urban locations. This occurs for a variety of reasons but is likely linked to higher speed limits, less traffic enforcement, and less lighting, stop signs, and traffic lights in rural areas compared to urban or suburban ones.
How to Reduce the Likelihood of Car Accidents Among Teens
While teenage driving is risky, there are several ways that parents and other family members can reduce the risk that inexperienced teens can become involved in car crashes. These include:
- Educate your teen: The first step in preventing teen crashes is educating them about the dangers of dangerous behaviors like speeding, texting, not wearing a seatbelt, and driving impaired. Sharing statistics about the number of injuries and deaths can also be helpful, as long as it’s done gently and not interpreted as a “scare tactic.”
- Setting a good example: Studies show that parents who engage in dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding are far more likely to pass these behaviors down to their children than those who are safer drivers, so setting a good example for your teens is essential.
- Drive with teens more often: If you’re going to the grocery store or running other daily errands, ask your teen to drive you there and offer gentle suggestions about their driving performance. The more time and instruction you spend with your teen, the more likely they will become ingrained with safer driving behaviors.
- Offer rides home: Teen drinking is illegal and may be against the rules you set for your children, but impaired driving (or riding with someone impaired) can often be deadly. For this reason, you may want to institute a “no punishment” rule for giving your teen a ride home after drinking. If this is not possible, allow them to use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft to avoid intoxicated driving or riding with an impaired driver.
- Install tracking technology: There are a wide variety of options to track your teen’s driving activity, including a wide scope of smartphone-based mobile apps, which parents can use to track hard braking, speeding, and other potentially risky behaviors. Parents can also utilize in-car devices to limit a car’s maximum speed to a predetermined MPH.
- Use visual reminders: In many cases, a simple sign or sticker attached to a car’s dashboard can be highly effective in reducing teen speeding. Something as simple as “Don’t Text While Driving” or “No Speeding” can help reduce the teen’s temptation to engage in these behaviors.
- Warn them about trucks and motorcycles: Truck crashes can be especially deadly when compared to crashes with smaller vehicles. For this reason, you should educate your children about truck safety rules, such as giving a truck a wide berth or changing lanes to stay further away from nearby trucks. Motorcycles can also pose a threat to teen drivers, as they can be difficult to see, particularly if your teen does not have the habit of regularly checking their side and rear mirrors.
What to Do If You’ve Been Involved in a Truck Accident
If you or someone you one has gotten into an accident involving a truck, contact The Truck Accident Law Firm today. Our attorneys have over 80 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of car, truck, and bus accident victims throughout the United States. We will review your case for free and, if we take you on as a client, we will do everything in our power to fight for the maximum possible compensation for your case.