Anyone can be involved in a car accident. That said, the statistics show the chances of ending up in a car crash dramatically rise based on one factor alone: age. Teenage drivers aged 16–19 are most likely to experience a serious or fatal crash.
There’s more than one reason for the high number of teenagers who end up in crashes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, a significant contributing factor is inexperience.
How Driving Experience Makes a Difference
It takes time to learn how to drive a car safely. Operating a vehicle places a driver in an endless number of situations that they need to continuously monitor and react to in the blink of an eye.
Experienced drivers build defensive driving skills almost unconsciously. After you’ve driven for years, operating a vehicle becomes an automatic process. This frees up mental bandwidth, allowing a driver to place more focus on their surroundings.
Many good driving habits are only truly developed over years of practice. These include scanning the road ahead for brake lights, noticing that the driver in front of you is turning without a signal, maintaining awareness of other cars in your blind spots, and more.
In comparison, teens are still getting comfortable handling the car itself. Building up the ability to notice and respond to situations that could result in an accident is a skill new drivers haven’t yet developed.
Sobering Statistics on Teen Driving
Car crashes are among the most common causes of death for teenagers. Even when a crash isn’t fatal, though, the injuries and expenses that can come from even a minor accident can be devastating. A recent study published by the CDC showed that 3,000 teens die annually in car crashes and that another 250,000 are injured.
The CDC also reported that, of all teens, those in the age group of 16–19 years old are by far the most likely to be involved in a crash. Compared to drivers over the age of 20, teens in this age category are three times more likely to be killed in a car accident.
Other statistics from the CDC shed additional light on teen crashes:
- The death rate for males aged 16–19 is three times higher than for females
- The risk of a teen crash increases with each additional passenger
- The crash risk is highest in the first months after a teen obtains a license
- 50% of fatal teen crashes happen on the weekend
- 44% of fatal teen crashes happen at night
- Over half of teen drivers killed in crashes weren’t wearing a seat belt
- 39% of surveyed teens admitted to texting or emailing while driving
Data from the National Safety Council (NSC) showed that teens in the 16–19 age range account for only 3.6% percent of drivers. Despite that, they make up 9.3% of all drivers involved in crashes.
These studies provide insight into some of the situations most likely to end in injury or death when a teen is behind the wheel.
Leading Causes of Teenage Car Accidents
Teenage car accidents occur for numerous reasons. But some situations that lead to crashes are more common among teens. Some of the leading causes of teen accidents include:
- Poor judgment calls or reactions due to inexperience
- Texting or talking on the phone
- Checking social media
- Taking photos or videos
- Talking to passengers
- Driving under the influence
- Driving recklessly
- Showing off to friends
- Racing with friends
Because the teenage brain is still developing, functions like impulse control aren’t as fine-tuned as they are for adults. Teens are also more likely to take risks and misjudge the consequences of a driving maneuver.
Teen Car Accident Prevention
Teen car accidents are a problem. Fortunately, understanding the leading causes behind them makes it possible to prepare teens for the realities of driving. With sufficient awareness, teens can be empowered to make safer choices and receive additional training from friends and family that could help save a life.
Some of the best strategies for preventing teen car crashes include:
- Wearing a seat belt
- Not driving after drinking or using substances
- Not riding in a car if the driver has been drinking
- Not texting and driving
- Limiting or avoiding passengers
- Limiting conversation with passengers
- Answering the phone while driving
- Not eating while driving
Parents can help by continuing to speak with teens about defensive driving strategies.
Ultimately, increasing awareness is the best way to help teens stay safe on the roads. When teenagers truly understand the high risk that comes with being a teenager behind the wheel, they’re more likely to take safety warnings seriously.
Understanding the leading risk factors of teenagers’ involvement in crashes makes it possible to provide education and training to teens, parents, and other drivers alike — hopefully reducing the serious risk of injury and death that accompanies the teenage milestone of learning how to drive.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines