Why Do Teenagers Cause So Many Car Wrecks?

dreamstime_xs_7416613Speeding and Distractions Are Major Reasons

I can still remember the feeling of freedom and independence when I was allowed to get behind the wheel for the first time without my parents. And I can remember the feeling of trepidation when I watched my daughter drive away without me for the first time.

Driving is a right of passage for teenagers. But driving comes with huge responsibilities and risks that are often ignored.

On Saturday night, another teen was needlessly killed in a car wreck northwest of Fort Worth. The 18 year-old teen was speeding when he lost control of his pickup truck on a curve. The crash killed him and injured his 16 year-old passenger. It is not clear whether alcohol was involved.

We’ve seen this story way too many times. My law office has often represented the victims of these crashes, including the catastrophically injured passenger in the truck driven by the “Affluenza teen.”

A teenager dies or is seriously injured in a car wreck almost every day. These accidents are common. But they shouldn’t be.

Look at the Statistics

Auto accidents are unfortunately the leading cause of teen fatalities. Just in 2013, 2,163 teens died in car wrecks and another 243,243 ended up in the emergency room in the U.S.  They are three times more likely than adults to die in a car wreck based on miles driven.

While 15 to 24 year-olds only represent 14 percent of the country’s population, males in that age group are responsible for 30 percent of auto accident injury costs and females are just behind at 28 percent.

From a safety and common sense perspective, we need to do something about this alarming problem on our roads.

Why Do Teens Crash?

Here are some top reasons:

  • Speeding, reckless driving, and tailgating are huge factors.
  • Alcohol and drug use are often involved.
  • Cell phones and texting are (of course) serious distractions.
  • Teens don’t have the experience yet to deal with unexpected situations.
  • And to make matters worse, many teens don’t buckle up so their injuries are magnified.
  • Male teens are almost twice as likely to die in a car crash as females the same age.

What Can You Do as a Parent?

While you can’t be sitting next to your teen, you can make a difference in what they do when drive.

  • Set rules. Make clear that you will not tolerate driving after drinking alcohol, texting while driving or other careless driving conduct.
  • Sign a contract. The CDC offers a draft Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that really drives home the rules and consequences to your teen of not abiding by them.
  • Set an example. Your kids look up to you and watch what you do. If you talk on the phone while behind the wheel or blaze through a yellow or red light, you’re letting them know it’s okay to do so.
  • Restrict nighttime driving. Teens are at a greater risk of an accident at night, when conditions are more challenging and there are more drunk drivers on the road.
  • Install a safe driving app. FloDriving, Safe Drive and Drive Mode offer cool ways for teens to learn safe driving behavior.
  • Buy a Chevrolet. New technology allows you to set a maximum speed, see how far they drove, and mute the radio until seat belts are fastened.
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