Getting a drivers’ license is an important and memorable rite of passage, and teenagers are understandably eager to experience the freedom of being able to get places on their own. Yet, it is important for both teenagers and their parents to be aware of the serious risks to teens and others on the roadways that come along with that independence.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading killer of American teens. Auto crashes make up 44 percent of teen deaths in the U.S., and teen drivers are three times more likely than drivers in other age groups to be involved in a fatal car crash.
Further, even though teen drivers represent only about 7 percent of the nation’s licensed drivers, they are involved in nearly 15 percent of all fatal crashes. In 2009, there were 29,482 crashes involving teen drivers that left 153 dead in the state of Florida alone.
Reason Behind the Rise in Fatal Teen Auto Accidents
There are many reasons teen drivers are more likely than other drivers to be in accidents. One reason is because of the rise in texting while driving. According to a survey by AT&T, 97 percent of teens surveyed indicated that they knew texting while driving was dangerous, but 43 percent of them conceded to doing it anyway. Further, over 40 percent of those teens said that they had seen their parents also texting or reading emails while driving.
Other reasons include drinking while driving and teens’ failure to abide by traffic laws. A report by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm insurance found that 4 out of 10 teen drivers had a blood-alcohol level of at least .01 percent. They were also found speeding and not wearing seat belts.
Yet, the main cause in teen fatalities involving vehicles was teens’ failure to recognize potential road hazards-something that comes from inexperience and a lack of caution.
Proactive Measures to Combat Teen Accident Fatalities
In response to these disturbing statistics, several organizations and businesses have launched campaigns to educate teens and their parents about driving risks.
AT&T instituted a campaign entitled “It Can Wait,” which seeks to curb texting while driving.
A website is available for individuals to access fact sheets, posters, an online texting-and-driving simulator, and a documentary about teen drivers whose lives were ended or seriously disrupted by texting while driving. AT&T also has a “drive mode” for cell phones that replies to incoming texts with a message that the user is driving and will get back to them later.
Via the “Celebrate My Drive” program, State Farm is also supporting parents who set rules for their teens regarding driving. Data suggests that these teens are half as likely to be in crashes as those who do not. The program aims to celebrate teens getting their drivers’ licenses while actively involving parents.
If you are involved in an accident caused by a teen driver, it’s important to understand that both the driver and his or her parents may be held responsible. Florida law states that parents can be held liable for the negligent conduct of their teen drivers by mandating that a parent or guardian sign the driver’s license of a driver under 18.
Consulting with an accident attorney about the rights and responsibilities of both parents and teens when there has been an auto accident is advised. Call us today at407-835-8968 or fill out the online form located on our website.