Did you know that the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States is car crashes?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 2,623 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 were killed in car accidents in 2014. This accounted for 8 percent of car accident deaths that year. That means that every day in 2014, over 7 teens died as a result of a fatal car crash.
So what can we do to reduce this excessively high number of teen fatalities and injuries?
Fortunately, many car accidents – especially those involving teens – are easily preventable.
First let’s first take a look at why teens are involved in so many accidents, and at then how we can prevent these accidents from occurring in the future.
Why Teens Are Involved in So Many Accidents
There are a number of factors that explain why teens tend to be involved in so many car accidents, but the most common reason is that teens simply aren’t as experienced at driving as older people who have had their driver’s license for years. Backing this up is the fact that teens are more likely to be involved in a car crash during the first months of obtaining their driver’s license.
Frequently, when a newly licensed teen is on the road, they are experiencing many driving situations for the first time. A teen who has never been involved in an accident might not know the best way to react or adapt to happenings while driving.
They also might not realize something is a potentially dangerous or hazardous situation. And even if they do realize it, they may misjudge the level of danger.
Distracted driving is also a major factor in teen car accidents. Teens are constantly on their mobile phones texting, talking, or taking pictures. And while driving a car should put these behaviors on hold, all too often it doesn’t. Fiddling with the radio, applying makeup, eating and drinking, and talking with other passengers in the car can also contribute to distracted driving.
What else factors in to teenage car crashes?
- Teens are more likely to speed.
- Teens will often tailgate.
- Despite being underage, teens will drink and drive.
- Teens are less likely to wear a seat belt.
Preventing Teen Car Crashes
Although there are numerous factors at play when teens are involved in car crashes, many of these factors can be avoided or prevented. But it all starts with teaching teens about being safe on the road.
Seat belts. In a 2013 survey, only 55 percent of teens reported that they always wear their seat belt when in a car. Seat belts immensely reduce the risk of injuries and death in car accidents, so it’s crucial that teens are aware that wearing a seat belt isn’t optional, it’s mandatory.
No drinking and driving. All teens need to realize that drinking and driving can cause serious and deadly consequences and can endanger their safety and the safety of others. On top of that, there is zero tolerance for drinking and driving if you’re under 21 years old.
Driver’s education. A driver’s education course can be invaluable to a teen just learning to drive. Teens need to be able to build their skills before they’re on the road. The more practice, the better. Also, it might help to set certain driving restrictions for a newly licensed teen so they can get comfortable simply being on the road on their own.
Every driver is a beginner when they first get started. But with more experience and more time on the road, teens can become smarter and safer drivers and hopefully decrease the amount of injuries and fatalities we see every year.