Driver distraction is one of the leading causes of car accidents, and it plays a huge role in the rate of teen driver accidents in the U.S. reports 1-800-Car-Wreck®
Driver error continues to be one of the largest contributing factors in car accidents, and no group of motorists is more prone to exhibit this type of behavior than teen drivers.
“Unfortunately, teen drivers continue to be one of the biggest risk factors for car wrecks in the U.S.,” stated Dallas personal injury attorney Amy Witherite of Eberstein Witherite. “There are multiple reasons for this, but the biggest in my opinion is the lack of experience in different driving situations. Driving for many years gives you the opportunity to understand how other drivers will react in different circumstances, which helps you take preventative measures to avoid collisions. Young drivers lack that experience, so they tend to make the wrong choices when they are in an extreme situation. And they are also far more prone to exhibit characteristics of driver inattention such as texting while driving, which greatly increases the chances of a wreck.”
The Facts On Teen Drivers
According to the most recent statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, more than 2,000 teen drivers ages 16 to 20 were involved in fatal collisions in 2014, and more than 200,000 teens suffered injuries in a car wreck.
To put it into perspective, teens between the ages of 15 to 19 are only seven percent of the total U.S. population, but in 2013, they were responsible for 11 percent ($10 billion) of the total costs of all car wrecks.
And even within this demographic, male teen drivers are far more likely to be involved in fatal car wrecks than female drivers.
More troubling, teen drivers who have at least one other passenger in their vehicle are more likely to have a car accident than teens who are driving alone, and the risk increases with each additional teen in the vehicle.
As Witherite mentioned, one of the biggest reasons for these statistics is that teen drivers are often newly licensed, and they lack the built-in reaction time to respond to incidences on the road that an experienced driver would possess.
The Distraction Dilemma
Driver distraction is one of the leading causes of car accidents, and it plays a huge role in the rate of teen driver accidents in the U.S.
To be clear, teenagers are not the only group of drivers who exhibit this behavior, but they are more likely to engage in the behavior, and when that is coupled with their lack of experience on the road, it can become a fatal combination.
That’s the lesson that David Teater learned 10 years ago, when his 12-year-old son was killed in a car wreck caused by a 20-year-old woman who was distracted by a cell phone conversation, and ran a red light.
Teater, who is Senior Director of the National Safety Council said in an interview for a CNN.com article on distracted driving that teens find it very difficult not to engage in activities such as texting while they are driving.
“Even a well-meaning teen is going to have trouble saying no when they get that buzz,” Teater said, referring to an incoming text or social media update. “It’s almost a Pavlovian response.”
Some studies have found that using a mobile phone while driving can slow reaction time more than having a .08 blood alcohol level.
The reason is that while most people believe that the brain can “multitask,” the truth is, the brain shuffles between two tasks, which means that it splits focus and concentration. Even a split-second loss in reaction time on the road can mean the difference between life and death.
What Parents Can Do
While parents often feel overwhelmed by the problems posed by their teens driving, there are some steps parents can take to help lower the chances of an accident.
Per a New York Times article on teenage drivers, Jennifer Ryan, Director of State Relations at the American Automobile Association (AAA), suggests that parents not allow their teens to drive from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., during the first six months of obtaining their license.
In addition, Nichole Morris of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota – which is dedicated to lowering the rate of car crashes – said:
“Our studies show that the more the parent is involved when a teen is learning, the lower their chances are for a crash,” Morris said.
Parents can also purchase apps that disable the texting function on their teenagers’ mobile phones, and closely monitor their children’s driving behavior, especially during the first two years of them obtaining a license.
Car accidents can devastate your life and cause consequences that linger for years. At 1-800-Car-Wreck, we help victims in cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso and Austin get back on their feet, and we keep your life running during a difficult time.
Eberstein & Witherite, LLP
Email: [email protected]