Summer increases the risk of teens dying or causing fatalities in car crashes. This group is already most at risk for being involved in serious and sometimes fatal car accidents. Many of these accidents cause catastrophic injuries to not only teens and their passengers, but also other drivers and passengers involved. Here is information that parents, teens, and other drivers on the road should know with summer’s upcoming 100 deadliest days in Chicago.
Teen Driving Statistics
Car accidents are the number one cause of accidental teen deaths. During 2017, 2,364 teens between the ages of 16-19 were killed in car accidents. Almost 300,000 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries caused by car crashes. That averages to six teens dying every day with hundreds more being injured. This age group is three times more likely than drivers who are 20 years or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), those most are risk are:
- Males between 16-19 years of age who are at twice the death rate of female drivers of the same age
- Teens that drive with teen passengers
- Newly licensed teens are at 1.5 times the risk of being in a car crash than 18-19 year olds
Why Do Teens Have More Car Accidents?
There are multiple reasons why teens are more likely to cause a car crash than adults are. In addition to their inexperience, they tend to engage in behaviors that increase their risk of having an accident. For example, texting while driving is a major concern throughout the United States. In a Pew Research Center study, one in four teens responded that they text while driving, include those that live in Illinois where it is illegal to text and drive.
Teen accidents increase during the summer months because there are more teens out on the road. Accidents are more likely to occur between 9 pm and 6 am with over half occurring on the weekend.
Distraction is a major cause of teen car crashes. Teens are easily distracted when talking with their passengers, talking on their cellphones, and listening to loud music while they drive. When a teen has caused a serious accident, investigators and personal injury attorneys will seek phone records to see if the teen was talking or texting on their phone.
Inexperience plays a big part in why teens are more likely to cause a car crash. They have a tendency to speed and lack the experience to handle certain traffic situations. Teens are more likely to not wear seat belts and drive recklessly. More than 46 percent of teens who died in car accidents were not wearing seatbelts.
Another issue that increases the risk of death and serious injury for teens in car accidents is drunk driving. A 2011 CDC survey found that almost 25 percent of teens admitted to being a passenger in a vehicle that was driven by a driver who had been drinking. Deaths from drinking and driving account for more than 20 percent of all teenage driving deaths.
Keeping Teen Drivers Safe
Many teen car accidents are preventable and there are proven strategies that can make teen drivers safer on the road.
Enforcing seat belt laws helps reduce teen deaths and injuries. Seat belts cut teen deaths and serious injuries in car accidents by half. In many states, police officers can ticket drivers and their passengers when they do not wear a seatbelt.
While the law calls to arrest adults that have a BAC of .08 or more, there is no acceptable level for teens. Enforcement of minimum legal drinking age laws for drivers under 21 years of age helps prevent drinking and driver among the youngest drivers.
Graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs have been shown to reduce fatal car crashes. These programs provide longer practice periods to help young drivers build their skills and increased supervision for new drivers. GDL programs can reduce fatal crashes by up to 41 percent and reduce overall crashes among 16-year-old drivers by up to 22 percent.
What Recourse Do Injured Parties Have in a Car Accident?
Illinois is an at-fault state. Drivers and passengers that are injured in a car accident caused by a teen driver may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. Medical expenses and other damages caused by accidents are not always fully covered by insurance companies. However, accident victims should be aware that the courts work according to comparative negligence guidelines. If an investigation finds that the injured victim was partially responsible for their injuries in the accident, the amount awarded will be reduced accordingly. For example, if an injured victim was not wearing their seatbelt, which could have prevented part of their injuries, the award amount will be less.