While parents focus on a variety of risks facing their children–alcohol, drugs, cyber bullying to name a few–there is one that often gets overlooked but claims too many lives. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of mortality for young people ages 4 through 34. The reason? Teen drivers.
Your Denver car accident attorney explains that during the first six months of solo driving, newly-licensed drivers are approximately eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than more experienced drivers. After six months of driving, teens are still two to three times more likely to be in fatal crashes than more experienced drivers.
Breaking these statistics down further reveals that young male drivers have a greater fatality rate, although recently young female drivers have almost caught up to them. Injuries sustained in these accidents, either as passengers in the vehicle driven by the teen or in another vehicle involved, are also a huge problem for young people since many are serious, life-altering injuries. The Centers for Disease Control estimated that the economic cost of vehicle crashes involving 15 to 20 year olds in terms of health care costs and lost work and productivity was $40.8 billion a year as of 2002.
A study released in July of 2014 by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded that teen drivers are driving in unsafe cars, a fact which leads to more fatalities in crashes. Studies show that when a teen is ready to drive, 28 percent of parents buy small cars that do not offer good crash protection. More than half of vehicles bought for teens were 2006 models or older, meaning that the vehicles lack the latest safety technology. The IIHS recommends that parents put their new drivers in bigger, heavier vehicles equipped with side airbags and electronic stability control (which helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads).
Also recommended is avoiding vehicles with high horsepower engines that might tempt young, new drivers to speed. The crash risk associated with speeding does not receive the attention it is due. Speeding is implicated in one-third of all fatal crashes of teen drivers.
If planning on purchasing a teen driver a vehicle, look first at the list compiled by the IIHS of recommended pre-owned vehicles to make sure it is safe.
As for making the driver safe, states have moved in the right direction in the past decade by establishing Graduated Driver Licensing programs, or GDLs. These programs vary state to state in their details, but all the programs require time between issuance of the permit and license so that the new driver must practice with an experienced driver in the car. Not only does this provide a new driver with critically needed road experience, but it also delays the age at which teens can drive on their own. Because experience and maturity are two factors that place teens at a disadvantage when first driving, lengthening the time between when a teen gets a permit and a license might be the next logical step in the battle against teen driving fatalities.
Contact a Skilled Lawyer Today
If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident with a teen driver, or if you would like more information on teen driving accidents in general, contact Jordan Levine at the Levine Law Firm.