One of life’s experiences we never forget is our first attempts in learning how to drive a vehicle. Some of us learned to drive a vehicle with a standard transmission, others with an automatic transmission system. (It was good to learn both, when possible.) These instructions were usually given to us by a parent or another family member or perhaps more formally by a driver’s education instructor in school or privately. However accomplished, it was exciting for the student but scary for the teacher! All in all, it was an unforgettable time that brings back memories of close calls and near disasters. Most young drivers and their guides manage to survive these lessons without harmful results. Then reality sets in. Once the teen is let loose on the roadways, a lack of experience often presents with dangerous situations as well as horrible and deadly teen driving accidents.
What are the main causes of teenage driving accidents and how can they be prevented? Here we present the most common 5 causes and preventions*:
#1 – Speeding:
Teens are more likely to speed than older drivers. Speeding was a factor in 52% of fatal crashes in teen-related driving (year 2011). More teen males at 38% than females at 24% were involved in speed-related accidents (years 2007-2011). The number of teen fatalities due to speeding was 19,447 in the time period of 2000-2011.
PREVENTION: Be aware that the faster the speed, the more time it takes to come to a complete stop. Thus, going over the speed limit or following another vehicle too closely will more than likely cause a crash. To avoid an accident, reduce your speed. It seems many teens (especially males) are mentally wired to speed, but they need to be reminded frequently that speeding can be deadly. The thrill of speeding is not worth risking deaths or life-changing injuries. Also, it is vital to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. One rule of thumb is to allow one car length for every 10 miles of speed. (An example: 6 car lengths for 60 miles per hour.)
#2 – Nighttime Driving:
The fatal crash rate of 16-year-olds is about 400% higher at night than during daylight. This is due to a combination of low visibility, fatigue, and less experience in driving. Over 50% of these nighttime crashes happen between 9 p.m. and midnight.
PREVENTION: Be home and stay home after dark! The truth is driving at night is more dangerous than driving in the daytime. It is not hard to figure out why right? Just think about how the same familiar streets can look A LOT different at night and cause the driver to become disoriented. Therefore, avoiding nighttime driving is a definite way to protect all ages of drivers, but especially teenagers who are 10 times more likely to be in a crash during their first year of driving.
#3 – Drinking and Driving:
About 23 – 25% of all fatal teenage driving accidents in 2012 were caused by a drinking driver. An average of 4,799 people is killed each year by teenage drivers drinking; that’s more than all illegal drugs combined.
PREVENTION: Do NOT drive if you have been drinking even a small amount! Alcohol or drugs can drastically slow your physical responses to driving conditions. Teen drivers are 17 times more likely to die in a car crash whenever they have an alcohol blood level of 0.08%. Did you know that kids who start drinking alcohol at an earlier age are 700% more likely to be in an alcohol-related accident? A major way to prevent fatal accidents is to NOT drink until age 21. Better yet, avoid drinking and driver altogether!
#4 – Cell Phones:
Close to 14% of teen driving accidents are caused by some type of distraction. Texting while driving has caused approximately 333,000 injuries each year. Car accident risk is 400% higher when using your cell phone and driving at the same time.
PREVENTION: STOP driving if you need to use your phone. It may be inconvenient, but it could save your life or someone else’s life. Answering a text message takes your attention away from driving by 5 seconds. If you are driving 55 mph at that time, it is enough time to travel the length of a football field. Crazy!! Your brain activity is decreased by 37% when you use a cell phone while driving. Use self-discipline – not your phone – and wait until you have stopped driving.
#5 – No Seat Belts:
Teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt usage. In fact, only 65% of teenagers, both drivers, and passengers, consistently wear their seatbelts. Sadly, 55% of teens who die in vehicular accidents are not wearing seatbelts.
PREVENTION: Seatbelts save lives! There is no dispute about that. To have the best chance of surviving a vehicular crash, wear a seatbelt EVERY TIME you drive or ride as a passenger. This habit reduces your risk of serious injury by 50% and your risk of death by 45%. In 2000-2012, 189,294 lives were saved by using seatbelts when accidents happened. Countless lives each year could be saved just by this one singular, simple, convenient discipline.
A great resource for Texas Teen Drivers. The Texas Department of Public Safety’s website has a TXDPS Impact Texas Teen Driver Course available online. Check it out!! It could save your life or other lives you love. Here is a partial introduction to the course:
“IMPACT Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) was developed by the Department of Public Safety with the goal of saving lives through awareness and education. ITTD is an 8-part video that explains with hard facts the dangers of distracted driving along with real-life stories of teens that have lost their life from distracted driving. Our theme throughout the video is “It is not about bad kids doing bad things, but about good kids making poor choices.” These poor choices center around cell phone use as well as attempting to multitask in the vehicle instead of focusing on driving.”
Know a teen who is near and dear to your heart? Cesar Ornelas Law Firm is here to help with driving accidents or any legal matters. Please be aware that our office is available to you 24/7 via phone or our website via chat or contact form. Call Cesar Ornelas Law at 855-930-1149 or go to Cesar Ornelas Law.
Originally from Kyle, Texas, Mr. Ornelas is a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation attorney.
Licensed in Texas, Cesar Ornelas’s nationwide practice is entirely contingency fee-based and consists of a wide variety of catastrophic personal injury and death cases. He has represented countless victims of catastrophic accidents across the United States.