In Rochester, getting your driver’s license is a rite of passage into adulthood. Once you get your license, you begin feeling free and independent, even if you are a teenager still living with your parents. It’s a privilege few of us choose to give up, even as we get older and our senses and reaction times begin to fade.
Drivers of all ages cause serious car accidents, but teenagers are perhaps the most dangerous age group. Young motorists make up relatively small minorities of the driving public but cause more than their share of serious and fatal car crashes in the United States.
Teens and motor vehicle crash rates
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2020, 16- to 19-year-olds made up just 3.5% of licensed American drivers, while drivers aged 65 to 74 represented about 13.7% of the total (for these groups, that means four older drivers for every one teen driver). The younger age group was nonetheless involved in 8.9% of motor vehicle crashes and 6% of motorists in fatal wrecks. Meanwhile, the older age group was involved in just 6.9% of car crashes and 7.7% of collisions in which someone was killed. The NSC further found that as age increases, crash rates steadily decrease, except for a slight increase for drivers over 75.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) cites similar results with regard to teen driving, finding that teens aged 16-19 were involved in more crashes than any other group, with males drivers more than twice as likely to be involved in fatal crashes than female drivers. Furthermore, the risk of a crash increased with young passengers.
The CDC cites some explanations for these statistics, as there are some factors that may provide explanation. Inexperience behind the wheel is one thing virtually all teenage drivers have in common. Other factors considered include nighttime and weekend driving, not using seatbelts, distracted driving (like texting), speeding, alcohol use, and drug use.
It takes years to develop familiarity with vehicles, road conditions, safely speeding up and slowing down, and evasive maneuvers in emergency situations. Smartphones have also created significant risk for distracted driving. People of all ages have been caught attempting to use their phones while driving, but teen drivers are especially guilty of this dangerous habit. A survey in 2019 found that 39% of teens admitted to texting or emailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days of taking the survey. Distracted driving and inexperience, among other factors, help to explain why it is that teens unfortunately cause more crashes, including so many fatalities.
The consequences of bad young drivers on the roads
Teens who learn good driving skills and avoid bad habits can become very safe and dependable on the road. But there will always be young drivers who take unnecessary chances or drive while distracted or drunk, putting the rest of us in danger of serious injury from a car accident. If you are injured by a teen driver, reach out to Klampe Law Firm for a free consultation.