Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury and disability among teen drivers. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to hear that their teenage son or daughter has been involved in an auto accident, or worse caused one. As Tacoma auto accident attorneys, we know accidents happen, and at a higher rate when comparing the number of auto accidents involving adult drivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2016 alone, 292,742 teens were treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in auto accidents. Teens aged 16 to 19 are at the highest risk, nearly three times more likely to be involved in a serious car accident than a driver aged 20 years or older.
There are several reasons why teens are at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident. The first can boil down to simple inexperience. Young, newly licensed drivers lack the skill and experience to anticipate and appreciate hazardous situations on the road. Within the first few months of licensure, these young drivers are at the highest risk of having an auto accident than anyone else on the road. Familiarity with the rules of the road in practical, real-life situations is lacking. One of the most common scenarios involving a crash is the left-hand turn, requiring estimating speed of the other vehicles and anticipating a safe distance before initiating the turn. These are skills that will only improve over time. Rear end collisions are another driving scenario that commonly precipitates a crash. Teen drivers often underestimate the unpredictability of the flow of traffic and reaction time of the lead vehicle. Traveling too fast for the road conditions and maneuvering around obstacles in the road highlights another common driving skill deficit seen among teen drivers.
Another issue commonly seen with teen drivers is distractions while driving. In today’s world, we know that cell phone use constitutes a significant danger on the roads. Nearly 80% of teens report owning a cell phone. Most, if not all of these teens, text and participate in social media daily, unfortunately sometimes while driving. In 2015, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) reported that 42% of high school students admitted to texting or emailing while driving in the previous 30 days. Teens who engage in this risky behavior are also more likely to minimize other risks, like not wearing a seatbelt, drinking while driving, and driving while drowsy. Another proven distraction while driving is teen passengers, with the risk of having an auto accident increasing exponentially with the number of passengers. Talking with friends and taking the focus off of the road creates a very real danger for not only the teens but for others on the road as well. At times when visibility is reduced, like at night, these distractions are even more likely to lead to the tragedy of an auto accident.
Teens are more likely than any other age group of drivers on the road, to underestimate dangerous situations. Studies have shown that male drivers aged 16 to 19 are twice as likely over their female counterparts to be involved in a serious collision. Teens are also more likely to engage in reckless behavior behind the wheel, including illegal turns, improper lane changes, tailgating, or street racing. Not cognizant of the degree to which drinking can impair reaction times and concentration, teens that drink and drive are probably the most dangerous category of drivers on the road. In 2015 surveyors found that 20% of teens admitted to riding in the car with a driver, in the prior month, who had been drinking alcohol.
Driving on the road today can feel like a scary proposition at any age. In the blink of an eye, injuries from an auto accident can change your life forever. Have your own accident story to share? Tell us your story and how we can help get you the compensation you deserve.
To learn more about our Tacoma Law office and experienced car accident attorneys, Terry E. Lumsden, and Mike Ellickson, please visit our website or simply call us. We can also provide you with our Tacoma law firm’s history of Multi-Million Dollar Settlements.