In the first six months after a teenager gets their driver’s license, the likelihood of them being involved in a traffic accident is the highest it will ever be. In fact, 1 in 5 teenagers will be involved in a traffic accident within the first year of having their license. The reason for this high likelihood is related to inexperience and distraction.
Teen Accident Statistics
- Car accidents are the number one cause of death for persons between the ages of 15 and 19.
- There are nearly 5,000 car accidents in the St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa area every year involving teens.
- Teens account for nearly 15% of all traffic accidents in Florida every year.
- The fatal crash rate for teenagers is 4 times the rate for drivers aged 25-69.
Why Teenagers Are Dangerous Behind the Wheel?
A child’s 16th birthday comes with freedom and danger. In most states, including Florida, it marks when the date upon which a teenager is eligible to obtain a driver’s license. It marks when they begin driving by themselves. The privileged children may even be given a car for their 16th birthday. With this added freedom comes responsibility and danger. Parents of young inexperienced drivers must be aware of the most dangerous situations in which young drivers find themselves.
Teenaged drivers are especially susceptible to the dangers of nighttime driving. The fatal crash rate of teenagers is almost 4 times higher at night than during the day. This is likely due to the inexperience of the driver. Most teens do not have much experience behind the wheel at night. Driver’s education classes are typically given during the day. Parents are much more likely to let their permitted drivers practice when conditions are optimal.
Parents need to train their young drivers how to drive in less than optimal conditions. It is important to learn to drive at night and in the rain. Although adults have been programmed for years and nighttime driving is second nature, it is important to remember that driving at night can change the driver’s depth perception. These differences must be accounted for by the driver. The only way to improve a teen’s nighttime driving proficiency is time behind the wheel driving at night. However, parents should strongly consider limiting their teen’s nighttime driving that occurs without an experienced driver in the vehicle.
Driving with Other Teenagers in the Vehicle
Many states have graduated teen drivers’ license requirements. By that, I mean that a teen may first get a permit, then a license with specific limitations, and finally a full-blown license. These graduated license requirements can place restrictions on the hours by which a teen may operate a vehicle. They may require certified training hours behind the wheel. However, it is apparent that the most effective requirement in reducing teen accidents and fatalities is to limit the number of teenaged passengers that may be in the car while a teen is driving.
Teens are easily distracted. A young inexperienced driver and a car full of teenagers is a recipe for disaster. Florida places no restriction on the number of passengers who may be in the car when an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel. There is a calculator which estimates the effect of various aspects of a graduated license and it seems to strongly indicate that limiting the number of passengers for the first year of licensure would have the greatest effect on teen accidents and fatalities. For this reason, I would highly recommend that all parents place restrictions on their teenaged driver and the number of passengers which you permit in the vehicle while the teen is driving.
Talking/Texting While Driving
Teens are 16 times more likely to get in a car accident when using a handheld device as compared to more experienced drivers. Talking or texting are distractions that greatly increase the risk of an accident. Talking or texting on a phone will increase the reaction time of the driver because it can take your eyes off the road for up to FIVE SECONDS. During the time driver’s eyes are off the road, the vehicle will have traveled more than a football field. It is critical that teen drivers be taught not to text/talk and drive. Setting a good example is extremely critical in this regard. If your children see you using a cell phone while driving they will do the same.
Seat Belt Usage
Florida has a seat belt law, but the younger drivers seem to ignore this law more than more experienced drivers. Most young drivers killed in car accidents are not wearing their seatbelts. This is simply a matter of education and repetition. Children must be taught from a young age that seatbelts are mandatory. Almost every study on the subject indicates that seatbelt use significantly reduces injuries and fatalities expected in auto accidents.
How to Protect Your Teenage Driver
What can parents of a teenaged driver do besides buying an insurance policy with high limits? Remember, you will bear the financial responsibility for any accident your minor child is involved in.
- Driver training courses are very important.
- Do not let your children have more than one passenger in the car while they are driving.
- Do not let your child text or talk on the cell phone while driving. You can actually program your child’s cell phone to be non-operational while they are operating a car. There are lots of app for this.
- Set a good example with your own driving habits.
- At the end of the day, it’s a learning curve that everyone has to experience. So make sure to give your kids as much driving experience as possible while you are with them.
Car Accidents Can Have Devastating Results
Unfortunately, the results of a car accident can be devastating and include:
- Serious soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord damage
- Neck and back injuries
If your teen was involved in a car accident, contact an experienced Florida injury attorney.
Have you been involved in a car accident caused by a teenaged driver? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Jones Law Group today. The decision to hire an experienced car accident attorney is an extremely important one. It is a decision which you control and should be based on sound reasoning. We invite you to come in and meet us. Ask us questions. Our philosophy is one of treating the client well and providing timely, responsive, and knowledgeable service.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you should immediately call Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707