Teen drivers are often involved in automobile accidents, making car accidents the leading cause of death among young people. Accident rates for drivers aged 16 to 19 are higher than any other age group.
Teenagers are involved in car accidents for several reasons.
Risk is something which many people enjoy, as shown by the popularity of extreme sports. Risk taking is more common among teenagers than older people, and that tendency can exhibit itself in driving. When hazardous conditions present themselves, many young people overestimate their ability to avoid the danger.
Seat belt by teens is lower than among other age groups. This presents an additional risk taken by many teens which results in far too many unnecessary deaths and injuries.
Alcohol use by teenagers often leads to tragic consequences, when young people drink (and/or consume other drugs) before setting off on a drive. Studies have shown teenagers are even more impaired than older adults with an equal amount of alcohol in their systems.
Passengers in the car also raise accident rates significantly. Safety officials believe this may be because friends in the car distract teen drivers, and may challenge them to take additional risks.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles reported, “[T]he fatality risk of drivers aged 16-17 years is 3.6 times higher when they are driving with passengers than when they are driving alone, and the relative risk of a fatal crash increases as the number of passengers increases.”
Night driving is more dangerous than travel by daylight for all drivers, and that tendency is especially true for young drivers.
Excessive speed is a contributing factor in one-third of all fatal car accidents involving teenagers. This behavior is common among teenagers, especially when running late for a class, job or other appointment.
Distracted driving can include texting and phone calls, in addition to passengers in the car. Make sure to tell your teen to keep their phone down while behind the wheel.
“Even after more than six months licensed to drive alone, teens are two to three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than are the most experienced drivers,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
As teens spend more time behind the wheel, they can learn better skills to identify risks and threats on the road. However, learning these skills takes time. The ability to handle a car, especially in less-than-ideal conditions, can also improve with additional experience behind the wheel.
Many teenagers are safe, responsible drivers, and just because someone is young does not mean that they should not be trusted behind a wheel.