The Threat of Teen Drivers

Published on October 25th, 2018

dangerous teen driversCar crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths in the United States. National Teen Driver Safety Week is designed to raise awareness of this fact and seeks solutions to prevent injuries and deaths of teen drivers.

It’s important to acknowledge, however, that teens not only pose a danger to themselves when they’re behind the wheel, but to every other motorist who shares the road with them.   

Teen Drivers Are Simply Inexperienced

Teens are required to learn the rules of the road, take driving lessons, pass written and practical exams, and drive under the supervision of a licensed driver. These activities, while important, do not create an excellent driver right away.

Just like any other skill there is to master, a person gets better over time and with conscious practice. Teens are neophytes. They do not know how to deal with every challenge that could come their way on the road. They’ve been a passenger for 16 years or more, and now they’re being entrusted to operate a giant machine that moves quickly. That’s a terrifying thought.

Teens face the same driving hazards as every adult motorist, and their threat and likelihood of causing a car accident is even more pronounced because of their inexperience.

The Unique Characteristics of Teen Drivers

Every driver must start somewhere. Teens look forward to that moment in their life when they will be truly free to go where they please, when they please. Getting a driver’s license is a step in that direction and most are anxious to grab the opportunity.

Many teens are so excited about driving, feel so validated by earning a license, that they are likely to consider themselves infallible. They’ve reached a certain age, passed a certain test, and now carry a certain card. But having permission to drive and driving safely are two completely different things.

The same threats that exist for adult motorists exist for teens, often multiplied:

  • Distracted driving: Smartphones are the biggest distraction for drivers. Teens text, take selfies, take videos, watch videos, and do just about everything on their cell phones. This can’t happen behind the wheel, but it does. Reaction time is compromised with phone use behind the wheel. But there are other types of distracted driving too, like having passengers, eating while driving, or adjusting music while driving.
  • Drunk driving: Teens should, by law, not be drinking. But drunk driving happens among teens and it can be deadly. Combine inexperience and distraction with alcohol and teens could cause a fatal accident.
  • Overconfidence: Teens earn some cache when they earn their driver’s license. They may be gifted with a car or allowed to go out alone whenever they want. Being given a long leash by parents can only inflate a teen driver’s confidence, and while it’s important that your teen be confident in their abilities behind the wheel, believing that nothing will happen to them and that they’re too good of a driver to do anything wrong is shortsighted.
  • Poor decisionmaking: Driving is a responsibility, and it comes with the requirement to make decisions at a moment’s notice. A teen may have great reflexes in general, but when it comes to quickly making the right choices while driving, a teen is more likely to falter, whether out of fear or lack of knowledge. Poor choices also include speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.

If you have been in a car accident with a teen driver, or lost a loved one in an accident with a teen driver, contact Thurswell Law for a free consultation with a car accident lawyer. You have the right to compensation for your pain and suffering. We do not charge any fees unless you collect. Call (248) 354-2222 today to schedule your consultation.

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