Young drivers are more likely to make mistakes when something unexpected occurs
The Dallas Car Wreck lawyers at 1-800-Car-Wreck are reporting on the persistent problem of young drivers and the rate of car accidents among this group.
As demographic, young drivers tend to have more accidents and exhibit more risky driving behavior than older, more experienced drivers.
That’s not just a factor of youth and inexperience, however, as advances in mobile technology has created major distractions for this group of drivers, taking their focus and attention off the road, and contributing to car wrecks.
But the fact is, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for young people ages 16 to 19 in the U.S., a statistic that should concern every parent out there whose children are of driving age.
Young Driver Accident Stats
Although their statistics for young driver car accident fatalities have not been released for 2015, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2014, 2,270 drivers age 16 to 19 died in car wrecks, and 200,000 others suffered injuries.
The fatality numbers means that six teenage drivers were killed every day in car accidents in 2014.
Teenage male drivers were twice as likely to die in car wrecks than teenage female drivers, and teenagers who drove with passengers in their vehicles were much more likely to be involved in a crash.
What’s even more troubling is that teenagers who receive their driver’s licenses for the first time have a higher likelihood of being involved in a crash during the first few months of driving than at any other time in their driving history.
These statistics are bad enough, but when you factor in the overall accident statistics for 2015, things get even worse.
In the summer of 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued its report on 2015 motor vehicle accidents, and the news was not good.
More than 35,000 people died in car wrecks in 2015, which was a 7.2-percent increase and represented the largest percentage increase in car fatalities in 50 years.
What’s even worse is that the number of fatalities increased in every vehicle category, including SUVs, vans, passenger vehicles and motorcycles.
Pedestrian fatalities also increased by 9.5-percent and bicyclist fatalities increased by a whopping 12.2-percent, the highest number since 1995.
Significantly, the number of young drivers age 16 to 20 who were involved in fatal wrecks increased by 9.7-percent, and the number of young drivers who died in car accidents increased by 10-percent.
Young drivers were also much more likely to be seen using electronic devices while operating a vehicle.
According to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) that is conducted every year by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis , a division of the NHTSA, the percentage of young drivers who visibly manipulated handheld mobile devices while driving jumped from 2-percent to 4.9-percent from 2014 to 2015.
The NOPUS report found that since 2007, young drivers age 16 to 23 had the highest percentages of all drivers when it came to using handheld mobile devices while driving.
“There’s a tendency to forget that younger drivers are much more in tune with the latest technological gadgets, and that they like using those gadgets even when they’re driving,” stated Dallas car wreck lawyer Amy Witherite, founding partner of the personal injury law firm of Eberstein Witherite, LLP, which has offices in multiple Texas cities including Dallas, Fort Worth Houston and Austin. “And very often, those gadgets are attached to mobile devices, which young drivers believe they can use while driving, because they have headsets or other hands-free devices. But the problem is that when you mix a young driver and distractions such as texting or talking on a mobile phone, you have the makings of a bad situation on the road. Just because a young driver’s hands are on the wheel doesn’t mean that the driver is paying attention, and we tend to forget that distraction is cognitive as well as physical.”
In fact, young drivers also lead all driving demographics in their use of mobile phones without hands-free devices.
In 2015, 4.6-percent of drivers age 16 to 24 held a phone to their ears while driving, which was higher than the 4-percent of drivers age 25 to 69 who practiced that behavior.
Major Causes of Young Driver Car Accidents
And it’s risky behavior that is behind many of the contributing factors that make young drivers far more likely to be involved in car wrecks.
The most common of these behaviors are:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driver distraction
Young drivers exceed the speed limit more than any other driving demographic.
The reasons vary, but some car safety experts believe that street racing and the feeling of power and control, motivates young drivers to speed, and speeding is one of the leading causes of fatal car wrecks in the U.S.
Nearly 25 percent of all fatal crashes among young drivers are caused by underage drinking, according to the NHTSA.
Drinking impairs a driver’s ability to make sound decisions, slows reflexes and can even cause a driver’s eyes to close while operating a vehicle.
Texas led the nation in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2015 with 1,323, which was a staggering 38 percent of all car wreck fatalities in the state.
Any activity that takes a driver’s attention and focus off the road is considered a distraction.
The most common types of driver distraction include texting on a mobile device, watching a mobile device, speaking on a mobile device, eating, smoking, chatting with another passenger, applying makeup and bending down to pick something off the floor.
But distraction isn’t just physical, it can also be cognitive, including a driver who is lost in thought, or replaying a conversation in his/her head.
Young drivers have much higher rates of mobile device use while driving, and are also much more likely to engage in animated conversation when driving with other passengers, which poses a higher risk for accidents due to inattention.
Young drivers have faced less road situations than experienced drivers, which means that they are more likely to make mistakes when something unexpected occurs.
That’s especially true for young drivers who have been licensed a year or less, because they are still learning the rules of the road, which are quite different from the rules printed in a car-driving manual.
For example, young drivers are far less secure when making left turns, yielding right of way at an intersection, lowering their driving speed to account for inclement weather of traffic conditions, maintaining a safe distance from a vehicle in front of them and making safe lane changes.
“5 To Drive” Campaign To Lower Young Driver Accidents
In an effort to combat the rate of car wreck fatalities among young drivers, the NHTSA has created the “5 To Drive” campaign, which is a checklist of five critical talking points that parents should discuss with their teenage drivers to promote safety.
The topics included in the checklist are:
- No mobile phone use, including texting while driving
- No passengers while driving
- No speeding
- No alcohol or drug consumption
- No driving without a safety belt
“The ‘5 To Drive’ Campaign is a simple and effective way for parents to instill five very important driver safety practices into their teenage children,” added Witherite. “Parents have a huge influence over how their children behave when they are behind the wheel, but sometimes, parents just don’t know what to say. This campaign really gives them the tools necessary to have a thorough discussion about the kind of driver they want their children to be at all times. If you read that list, it covers the most important factors that cause young drivers to be involved in car wrecks, or to survive car wrecks, and that has real value.”
In addition to the “5 To Drive” Campaign, the NHTSA is pushing states to increase their driver safety requirements for young, newly licensed drivers.
Driver safety courses offer instruction on defensive driving to avoid collisions, and they also help young drivers make sound decisions in a number of different traffic circumstances.
Young drivers are often unaware of the basic ways to avoid errors, such as maintaining the proper following distance, not changing lanes until they have looked over their shoulder to ensure that the lane is clear, and ensuring that the intersection is clear before making a left turn.
What To Do After a Car Wreck
The truth is, that even with all the safety training available to young drivers, they still cause car wrecks in greater numbers than any other driving group. And if you have suffered injuries in a car accident caused by a young driver, or any other type of driver, the first thing you should do after seeking medical help is to contact a personal injury lawyer.
There are too many variables involved in a car wreck, and only a personal injury lawyer is trained to know what matters most in a future legal action.
If you live in Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, Lubbock, Abilene, Austin or Tyler, and you have suffered injuries in a car wreck, please call 1-800-Car-Wreck and speak to one of the Dallas car accident attorneys at Eberstein Witherite. We have decades of experience helping victims of car wrecks, and our commitment is to pursue justice on your behalf, obtain fair and reasonable compensation and help restore your quality of life. Call us today or fill out the form online and a member of our team will contact you for a free legal consultation.
Eberstein & Witherite, LLP
Email: [email protected]