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Teen Drivers Continue On Upward Accident Trend

| Jan 15, 2016 | Motor Vehicle Accident

Drivers aged 16 to 25 are more likely to be involved in collisions and cause damage than their older counterparts. This is due in part to their inexperience behind the wheel. In addition, young drivers are more prone to being influenced by distractions. The ultimate result of pairing inexperience with increasing levels of distraction is consistently higher fatalities for those in the “youth” demographic behind the wheel. With a view to the constant risk of teen-related crashes in Wheeling, car accident attorneys have much to consider.

The cost of inexperience

According to the Centers for Disease Control report on motor vehicle safety for 2013, teen drivers are almost three times more likely to be in a fatal crash. The figure is significantly higher for boys than girls. Having teenaged peers for passengers increases the risk of accidents and fatalities. And, the more recently a young driver has been licensed, the more likely they are to have an accident.

The most obvious question that remains is: why do teens have more car accidents? Answers are variable, but in general teens are:

  • Less likely to recognize common road hazards;
  • Less likely to wear seat belts (only 55 percent of students surveyed said they always wear a seat belt according to the CDC);
  • More likely to underestimate dangerous conditions; and
  • More likely to speed.

Though these four factors make a staggering contribution to teen death and serious injury on the roads, encouraging proper safety and best practices can be helpful in preventing accidents. For example:

  • Promoting seat belt use: seat belts are found to reduce crash-related deaths and injury by around 50;
  • Discussing drinking and driving: enforcing the law is a huge element, but providing “safe and sober” programs that support teens in making responsible choices can be key; and
  • Providing opportunities to learn about road hazards: graduated driving programs, enhanced driver’s education and more practice hours hold the key to long-term teen driver safety.

How the law helps

The statistics surrounding teen drivers are sobering, which is likely why every state now has a graduated driver licensing program, or GDL. The idea behind a GDL is simple: provide access to driving to enhance skills over time, decreasing the amount of supervision required for young drivers as they prove competent. GDL programs include caps on driving in higher-risk conditions, such as late-night hours. AAA research has shown a nearly 40% reduction in car accident fatalities following the introduction of GDL programs for teen drivers.

Eliminating distractions

Evaluating case after case, Wheeling car accident attorneys find that distraction plays a huge role in the severity of car accidents for Illinois teen drivers. According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey for 2014, over 40 percent of students admitted to texting or emailing while driving at least once a month. While data from the Insurance Information Institute implies that older drivers claim to be cutting down on phone usage behind the wheel in general, younger drivers are harder to persuade – and fall victim to more forms of distraction.

It is important to acknowledge that “distraction” extends beyond the arena of electronic devices. Eating, fiddling with the radio, programming the GPS and touching up makeup are also distractive behaviors in the car. Drowsy driving, impaired driving and having noisy passengers are other top distractions for teen drivers.

Lawmakers are taking an increasingly harsh stance against distracted driving where electronics are concerned. HB3487 proposes changing the Illinois Vehicle Code to make offenses committed while using an electronic device and driving which result in a death a Class 2 felony. Currently, such an offense would only be a Class 4 felony, and carry a milder penalty.

Solutions for accident prevention

Experienced car accident attorneys in Wheeling know that there are many contributing factors to crashes involving teen drivers. Ultimately all any driver can do is be vigilant about their own behavior. Where teen drivers are concerned, it is important that all drivers provide a responsible example.

  • Parents can learn the specifics of the Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing Program, and enforce the state’s rules at home;
  • Teachers can promote good driving habits, encourage awareness of road hazards and highlight the importance of safety measures like seat belts for the wellbeing of teen drivers and their passengers; and, perhaps most importantly,
  • Teens can work together to decrease the distractions in their driving environments. Similarly, they can aim to be more respectful to one another, decreasing peer pressure and negative behaviors.

By spending the recommended amount of time practicing road-based skills and gaining a firmer understanding of how to manage distractions, teen drivers limit the risk they pose to other road users and themselves.