For thousands of teenagers in Atlanta, across Georgia and beyond, summer break is just aroundÂ the corner. That means lots of fun, free time and, for many teens, their first summer with aÂ driverâ€™s license and a first car.
As parents, we know youâ€™re concerned about the safety of your sons and daughters on theÂ road. We are as well. Our families travel these same roads.Â Itâ€™s difficult to find a balance between wanting your child to drive safely, but still giving themÂ the freedom they deserve. State and federal data shows teenage drivers are still the most likelyÂ demographic to be involved in a serious or fatal car accident.
At Fried Rogers Goldberg, we want to help better educate you on some of the biggest risksÂ teenagers drivers face and how to ensure your child has a safe summer on the road.
Teenage Driving Statistics
The first years behind the wheel are the most dangerous. According to the Centers for DiseaseÂ Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers 16 to 19Â years old. About 292,000 teenagers in that age group are treated at hospitals each year. InÂ 2011, 2,650 teenagers were killed.
Though people ages 15 to 24 make up just 14 percent of the population, they account for 30Â percent of the nationâ€™s total cost of motor vehicle injuries, about $19 billion.
The death rate is nearly two times higher for male teenager drivers than for women. TeenagerÂ drivers also frequently carpool with their friends, driving in packed, noisy cars. This has beenÂ proven to be particularly dangerous, as teenager drivers with passengers in their cars are moreÂ likely to be involved in a serious or fatal crash.
Because teenager drivers are still learning how to drive, they are much more likely to makeÂ mistakes on the road. In particular, teenage drivers are far more likely than older drivers toÂ underestimate hazardous road conditions.
If itâ€™s raining outside, drive slower. Always put your cell phone away when youâ€™re on the road. Donâ€™tÂ speed around sharp turns. Be extra cautious when passing trucks or 18-wheelers. WhileÂ these driver safety measures have become so routine to you that you may not think aboutÂ them, these ideas are entirely new to your sons and daughters that are just learning how toÂ drive.
Go over some of some of the safety tips youâ€™ve learned over the years with your son orÂ daughter.
Seat Belt Use
Make sure your children are buckling up when they hit the road, even if they are not the onesÂ behind the wheel. You canâ€™t remind them often enough.Â Compared to other age groups, teenage drivers and passengers have the lowest rate of seatÂ belt use, according to the CDC. In 2013, just 55 percent of all teenagers said they always woreÂ seat belts when either driving or in a car with another teenager driver.
Drinking and Driving Among Teen Drivers
Whether itâ€™s graduation parties or just kids getting together on the weekends, teenage drinkingÂ is always a serious problem. Sadly, this means drinking and driving among teens will always beÂ problem on the road as well.
In 2012, 23 percent of drivers ages 15 to 20 that were killed in car crashes were drinking,Â according to the CDC.
Despite all the great education our high schools do on the dangers of drinking and driving, 22Â percent of teens still say they have been in cars recently with a driver who had been drinking. InÂ a 2013 CDC study, about 10 percent of teenagers admitted to drinking and driving in the pastÂ 30 days.
Among teenage drivers, drinking and driving is also often combined with no seat belt use forÂ particularly deadly results. In 71 percent of alcohol-related fatal crashes for drivers ages 15 toÂ 20, no seat belt was worn.
A large portion of fatal teenage car accidents occur during hours drinking is most likely to takeÂ place. In 2012, 49 percent of all teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3Â p.m. and midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Teenagers and Distracted Driving
Many teens canâ€™t seem to separate themselves from their phones, even when behind theÂ wheel. The problem may be worse than we think.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration had estimated that 14 percent ofÂ teen driver crashes involved distracted driving. However, video analysis from the AAAÂ Foundation For Traffic Safety concluded that distraction is a factor in 60 percent of accidentsÂ involving teens.
The study showed that in almost 90 percent of teenage road departure accidents, distractedÂ driving was a factor. That number was at 76 percent for rear-end collisions.Â Researchers found that teen drivers on their cell phones â€“ calling, texting, or other use â€“ hadÂ their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash.Â This gives them no time to react.
- Interacting with passengers
- Looking at someone or something outside of the vehicle
- Singing or moving to music
- Self grooming
- Reaching for an object
Talking with your teenage driver can only go so far. They will listen to what you have to say, butÂ your son or daughter is also going to have to take steps of their own.Â Encouraging your child to sign up for a defensive driving course or graduated licensing programÂ has been proven to greatly improve a teenage driverâ€™s safety on the road.
Where to look forÂ those courses in the Atlanta area? We put together a listÂ a few months ago.
Call or email our officeÂ if your son or daughterÂ has been involved in a car accident. Our attorneys areÂ always waiting to help.