The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2009, approximately eight teens from the ages of sixteen to nineteen died every day due to injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. The CDC estimates that teenage drivers between the ages of sixteen and nineteen are four times more likely to crash than older drivers. With the institution of stricter seatbelt and drunk driving laws, teen crash fatalities dropped between the 1970s and 1990s, but the numbers remain unyieldingly high, with more than 5,000 teenage car accident deaths each year.
The CDC notes several other disturbing trends among teen drivers:
· Teens are more likely than any other age group to speed while maintaining only short distances between themselves and other vehicles, and this risky behavior increases if there are male teenagers in the car.
· Teens are likely to underestimate dangerous situations.
· In 2005, 10% of high school students stated that they rarely or never used their seat belt when riding with friends.
· Male high school students are more likely to rarely or never wear a seat belt than female high school students.
· In 2007, a national survey found that three out of every ten teenagers reported that within the prior month they rode with a driver who had been drinking.
· In 2005, among male adolescents who were involved in fatal accidents, 26% had been drinking previously and 37% were speeding at the time of the crash.
What, or who, is to blame for such tragic and shocking statistics? It is often argued that the teens themselves are to blame, and in many ways there is truth to that claim. The California Department of Motor Vehicles lists a few factors that heighten a teenage driver’s risk of being involved in a serious or fatal crash:
· Lower risk perception and increased risk taking
· Lack of driving experience
· Passenger distraction
· Drug or alcohol influence
· Little ability to detect or recognize potential hazards
· Lack of skill when driving at night
· Greater tendency to ignore safety belt laws
Adolescent drivers are often unable to recognize changes in traffic and are easily distracted by friends, cell phones, and car stereos. They are impulsive and forgetful, which leads to poor decisions on the road. At times, teens become so caught up in the destination that they forget to protect themselves and their passengers during the journey. However, steps can be taken to prevent or reduce fatal collisions among teenage drivers. Experts agree that parental involvement is the number one safeguard against teen driving deaths.
The first step parents can take to protect their teens is to teach them safe driving techniques. One of the most important things to teach a teenager is the absolute necessity of wearing their seat belt every single time they are in a car. Countless deaths would have been avoided if the teen had been wearing a seat belt at the time of their accident. It is imperative that teens learn how to drive properly and pay attention to their surroundings. If they are not prepared to respond to potentially dangerous situations, they are at greater risk of being seriously injured in a crash. Parents should also be sure that they are setting a good example for their teens by following traffic laws and driving on the defensive.
Sadly, teens are 50% more likely to crash during their first month of unsupervised driving than they are after having a license for a year or more. Parents know that the vast majority of teenagers are easily distracted by their environments. Being as such, it can be very wise to ban your teen from using a cell phone, listening to the stereo, and transporting any passengers other than siblings. Eliminating all unnecessary distractions for six months to a year will help your novice driver create patterns of smart, observant driving, and possibly keep them from being another tragic statistic.
The California DMV found that teens are three times more likely to crash when driving after 9 pm. After a long day of school and recreational activities, a teenager is likely to be tired, hungry, and unfocused on the road and other drivers. An exhausted teen driving down a dark street or highway is a recipe for disaster. Setting a strict curfew for when your young driver must be home, and picking them up if they are out any time after that curfew, will help to protect them from their own inexperience and the inexperience of their peers.
Warning adolescents about the dangers of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance is critical. Parents must keep their teenagers from drinking and driving, which might be possible by taking your children to any parties or social events, and then picking them up afterward. The CDC reported that in 2008, 25% of teenage drivers who died in motor vehicle accidents had blood alcohol levels of 0.08 g/dl or higher. It is imperative that teenagers understand the dire consequences of driving under the influence.
Parents and teens alike must also remember that having a driver’s license is not a right, but a privilege and a responsibility. If you set guidelines for your child’s driving, be strong and consistently enforce the rules. Your teenager may complain and resent you, but by setting restrictions, you are decreasing the likelihood that the child you love will be seriously injured or killed in a car accident. Watching a teenager drive down the street alone for the first time can be emotional and frightening, but by establishing parameters, you may be able to prevent at least one teenage driving fatality, and help prove the statistics wrong.
When an auto accident happens to you, it can be a life-changing event. It is important to seek the representation of a qualified, competent attorney to protect your rights, and help to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. At the Law Office of Kevin Jensen, we will do just that!
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The Law Offices of Kevin Jensen is located in Mesa, Arizona, and handles cases throughout Maricopa County, including Gilbert, Chandler, Phoenix, Queen Creek, Tempe, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Ahwatukee, Apache Junction, Anthem, Glendale, El Mirage, Tolleson, Goodyear, Avondale, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Surprise, Sun City and Buckeye.
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