According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenage drivers are 300% more likely to get into car accidents than older drivers. Teenage drivers present the highest degree of risk on the road, to themselves and other drivers. The most obvious reason for this high rate of accidents is inexperience; a teenage driver likely earned his or her driver’s license recently and hasn’t had much experience on the road. However, there are several dangerous factors that appear to be more common among teenage drivers than other age groups. If you or somebody you love was injured in a crash caused by a negligent teen driver in Missouri, consider speaking with a reliable Kansas City car accident attorney to learn your legal options.
Younger drivers are more prone to engaging in risky behaviors such as speeding, street racing, and taking turns at high speeds. Speeding is a factor in more than half of all crashes involving teenage drivers. Parents should take the time to carefully explain why speeding is so dangerous and help foster safe driving habits in their children once they are legally allowed to drive unsupervised.
Distracted driving has become a major problem in the United States since the advent of cell phones. Teenagers are more likely to text while driving or use their phones behind the wheel for other reasons when they should be paying attention to the road. Distracted driving can pertain to three types of distractions:
- Visual distractions, which divert a driver’s gaze away from the road ahead
- Manual distractions, which divert a driver’s hands away from operating the vehicle
- Cognitive distractions or things that preoccupy a driver’s attention when he or she should be paying attention to the road
Texting while driving encompasses all three types of distraction at once and therefore presents a major safety risk on the road. Parents should encourage their teenage drivers to ignore their cell phones while driving until they arrive at their destinations.
Underestimating Dangerous Road Conditions
Inexperience behind the wheel leads to several safety issues. Most notably, teenage drivers lack the experience to quickly recognize dangerous road conditions. A teenage driver may assume that his or her vehicle can handle running over a small piece of debris or making a turn at a high speed, only to quickly discover this is not the case. More experienced drivers can quickly assess the road conditions ahead and adjust accordingly.
Failing to Signal and Use Safety Features
Teenage drivers are more likely than experienced drivers to forget to signal before turns and engage safety features like headlights and seatbelts. Most states have enacted seatbelt laws that enable law enforcement officers to pull over drivers caught driving without wearing seatbelts. The CDC reports that teenage drivers have the lowest rate of seatbelt use, with only 61% of high school-aged drivers reporting they wear their seat belts for every trip.
Teenagers love to party, and the CDC reports that about 15% of all fatal motor crashes involving teenage drivers occur with alcohol present. Not only are teenagers too young to drink, they pose an exponentially higher risk of crashing compared to older drivers. Parents should have frank discussions with their teenage drivers about the dangers of driving under the influence and encourage teens who drink to secure alternative transportation in case of emergency. Most parents would rather pick up an intoxicated teen and safely take him or her home than risk their teen attempting to drive home drunk.
Safe Driving Starts at Home
Most teenage drivers learn to drive from their parents, so it is up to parents to instill an appreciation for driver safety as early as possible. Set a good example by always wearing seat belts, signaling for turns, and following the posted speed limits and traffic signals. When the time comes for a teenager to drive unaccompanied, make sure your teen driver feels comfortable in his or her vehicle and knows how to operate all the included safety features.