Getting a driver’s license is undoubtedly one of a teenager’s most thrilling achievements. For many teenagers, having a vehicle (or driver’s license) represents independence from their parents and the freedom to do whatever they want. Driving is an exciting prospect for many teens, yet it also presents a significant hazard, which can result in severe injury or even death.
So, what happens if your teenager suffers a car accident? What do you do now and how can you help them if they were a victim of a car crash?
Teen Car Accident Statistics
In 2019, almost 2,400 teenagers aged 13–19 in the United States died in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 258,000 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries. This means that every day, approximately seven teenagers died in motor vehicle incidents, and hundreds more were injured. In addition, vehicle accident deaths among teenagers from 15–19 years of age resulted in $4.8 billion in medical and work loss costs for crashes that occurred in 2018.
But, what causes so many teenage car accidents?
Take a look at these statistics: In 2019, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays were the most dangerous days for teenagers in motor vehicle accidents. The weekend is a high-risk period for teenage drivers.
Reasons Teenagers Are Most Likely To Be Involved in a Car Accident
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified a few key causes for why adolescent drivers are more likely to be in car accidents:
Lack of experience:
In part, it’s due to their inexperience with the road. Young drivers have a threefold greater risk of dying in a traffic accident than older drivers, in great part because they are unfamiliar with the road and its dangers. Teens are more likely to miss hazardous circumstances (such as wet roads or stopped cars on the shoulder) than more seasoned drivers, and they are also more likely to underestimate the danger of a potentially hazardous scenario and make a fatal mistake that causes a collision.
The chance of an accident rises sharply during the first few months after a teenager receives their license.
Underage drivers, especially those who text and use mobile phones while driving, have the highest rates of distracted-related fatalities in the country. In 2015, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) reported that 42% of high school students who had driven in the previous 30 days had texted or emailed while behind the wheel. Students who acknowledged frequent texting were also more likely to engage in other hazardous driving behaviors, such as drinking.
Driving With Friends:
A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that there is a link between the number of teen passengers and increased crash danger when an unsupervised teenager is behind the wheel.
Teens are more likely to participate in activities that make it difficult to stop suddenly, such as speeding and tailgating. Male teen drivers, especially if there are other males in the car, are more likely to take risks.
Weekend and Night Driving:
Teens who have lost their night-driving limitations are at an increased danger of dying in automobile accidents. Half of all adolescent deaths from automobile accidents occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight in 2014. Weekends were also deadly, with 53% of deaths occurring on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Drinking and Drug Use:
Every year, over a million high school students consume alcohol and drive. According to one poll from 2015, 20% of teenagers had ridden with a drunk driver in the previous month. In 2014, 17% of drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 who died in accidents had a BAC of .08 percent or higher.
Lax Seat Belt Use:
Seat belts are one of the most effective methods to prevent injury and death in a car accident. Teenagers, on average, have the lowest rates of seat belt use among various age groups. According to a 2015 survey, just 61% of high school students always wear seat belts when riding with another person. Adolescent drivers with involved parents were twice as likely to wear seat belts.
California Laws For Teenage Drivers
The DMV keeps track of a teen’s driving history and provisional license. The DMV assigns point values for accidents, traffic citations, and arrests using its points system. The following are the penalties for breaking the rules:
- Failure to appear in court results in the loss of a teenager’s driving authorization.
- A DMV warning letter will be sent to the teenager if there is a collision in which he or she was at fault, or if they have been convicted of a traffic law infraction within the previous year.
- A teen’s driving permit is revoked for 30 days if they have two at-fault collisions or two traffic convictions within a year. In that scenario, the teen can drive only if accompanied by a legal parent or guardian over the age of 25.
- Three such collisions or traffic infractions within a year will result in a driver’s license being suspended for 6 months and one year of probation.
- Four or more such collisions or traffic laws infractions while on probation results in an extended suspension.
- If a person has an alcohol or drug use conviction between the ages of 13 and 21, their driver’s license will be suspended for one year or he or she will be delayed in the application process.
Both parents and teenagers should be aware of these possible consequences. It’s better to understand the legislation before a teenager drives for the first time. Courts and the DMV are inflexible in enforcing penalties.