Teenagers laughing and driving a car

The 100 Deadliest Days of the Year for Teen Drivers

Teenagers laughing and driving a carThe teenage years… exhilarating and dangerous.

They’re particularly dangerous for teen drivers.

According to new data from AAA, for every mile traveled, 16-17-year-old drivers are four times more likely than drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash and three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

In just the last five years, over 5,000 people have been killed in car crashes involving a teen driver.

Another sobering fact… according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of fatal car crashes involving teen drivers has risen 10% in just the last year alone.

The data also reveals that the roughly 100 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day are the most treacherous for these young drivers.

Why are these 100 days so dangerous?

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Teens Add New Dangerous Behavior While Driving…

Teens add another dangerous activity to distracted driving

Research data has consistently shown that teenagers continue to text and drive to an alarming degree.

It is also well known that texting while driving is leading to the first annual increase in car accident fatalities in the U.S. and Connecticut in 50 years.

Now add something more…

A new study conducted by a group called Students Against Distracted Driving has just been released. It shows that two thirds of all teens admit to using apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to look at and post new messages – while driving.

Astonishingly, when teens were asked to rate the various driving behaviors by how dangerous they are, by a wide margin teens in the study stated that posting or commenting on social media apps was less dangerous than texting while driving.

Less dangerous?

It’s an established fact that teenage brains evaluate risk differently than adult brains. It’s also a fact that teenage drivers are the most at risk demographic group for fatal car accidents.

So what can parents do to help their teens remain safe?

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Why Young Drivers Have More Car Accidents…

It’s long been known that adolescent drivers are more likely than adult drivers to have car accidents. And most of us think we know why they do… inexperience.

Well – researchers have recently looked at data to try and gain a better understanding of why teenager drivers crash and here is what they’ve found:

  • Peer relationships shape teenage behavior. Adolescents sometimes act irresponsibly when they are in groups – a result of peer pressure. These pressures can impact driving behavior in dangerous ways.
  • Teenagers tend to exhibit optimistic bias – thinking bad things won’t happen to them – resulting in poor decision making and dangerous behavior.teen_driver_distraction
  • Hormonal shifts in males and cultural beliefs about maleness and driving fast lead to dangerous driving behavior.
  • Teenage drivers tend to be emotional and the mood swings of adolescence seem to adversely affect driving behavior.
  • Good parenting matters. A study of 2,000 young drivers in Michigan found that the level of parental monitoring and permissiveness was strongly associated with driving behavior. Permissiveness in general and early adolescent drug/alcohol use (before the age of 15) linked to parental permissiveness of this behavior was associated with a higher risk for car accidents.
  • There appears to be a subset of the population that is known as sensation seekers, individuals who enjoy risky behavior. Teenagers in this group appear much more likely to drive at dangerous speeds and experiment with drugs and alcohol and drive while impaired.
  • Yes – experience matters. Researchers have found that new drivers experience about 5.9 car crashes for every 100 licensed drivers during the first six months of driving; a rate that subsequently falls to 3.4 car crashes per 100 drivers for the next six months, and then to between 1.3 and 3.0 crashes per 100 drivers for the months following. Another study looked at environmental factors like narrow roads, curves and steeply graded roads and their impact on accident rates. In this study, 16 year old drivers showed a greater likelihood of crashing than older drivers.
  • Speed (and poor judgment) kills. In one recent study – teenage drivers – both boys and girls, reported driving at speeds of 80 miles per hour or more in the last year.
  • Distractions are a menace – and getting worse. We have written extensively about the influence of cellular technology on driver safety. This factor is a significant problem for both adult and teen drivers – but a particularly dangerous one for inexperienced drivers.

So, what is a parent to do?

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So You Think Your Teenage Driver Is Distracted Now? Just Wait…

teens_distracted_drivingEvery parent of a teenage driver worries for their child’s safety when that child leaves for a drive to run an errand or visit a friend. Accidents happen.

We’ve written a lot in the past about the major causes of teenage car accidents. They include:

  • Distracted driving (texting, talking on a cell phone, visiting with other passengers, eating, fooling with music settings, adjusting the air, putting on makeup and more)
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving in bad weather (fog, rain, snow, ice, etc.)
  • Over-confidence

Imagine if there was a device that displayed an image of a caller or a text message or an email directly into your child’s field of vision while they were driving?

Continue reading “So You Think Your Teenage Driver Is Distracted Now? Just Wait…” »

Eight Tips for Parents with a New Teenage Driver

A rite of passage for every child is the day they reach driving age… It’s a huge day for parents too!

How can you as a parent help your child make this important transition smoothly and safely?

Eight Driving Tips for Parents with a New Teenage Driver:

  • Don’t be shy about letting a professional driving instructor do the teaching. Teenagers often have trouble “hearing” a parent. What’s more – it’s impossible to be a detached instructor when the driver is your child. Just doesn’t work that way. And then there is the matter of your bad habits – habits the children are well aware of. How do you credibly tell your child to do one thing when you do another.
  • If you do some of the teaching – give your teen gentle, constructive critiques of their driving, and always keep your temper in check
  • This one is now obvious. Set a good example. Don’t use a cell phone while driving. Don’t drink or use drugs and drive. Don’t perform tasks that distract you from your driving. Always wear a seatbelt. Carefully observe traffic laws…
  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of driving – not just the dangers of driving intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. Driving is a dangerous activity. The average driver files a car accident claim approximately every 17 years. And the odds of dying in a car accident in your lifetime are 1 in 112. A brand-new driver is 12 times more likely to have an accident than someone with a year of experience, says the National Institutes of Health. A 16-year-old who’s had one accident is 50 percent more likely to have another.
  • Stay involved in the process and make sure they practice. Research shows that making sure your child has at least 65 hours of supervised practice under a variety of conditions greatly lessens their odds of having a car accident.
  • Have rules and set limits. While they constantly remind us they don’t want our advice – teenagers actually thrive when there are boundaries and limits. It’s ok to set driving curfews – in fact it’s recommended. And it’s ok to limit the distance a child travels alone or the types of highways they can use initially.   Remind them that there are very strict laws in effect for young drivers regarding cell phones and driving and passengers and driving as well.
  • Make sure your teen knows exactly what to do in the event of an accident or a mechanical breakdown.
  • Finally – make sure the car(s) your teen drives are mechanically safe and safest in the event of an accident.

Research shows that you can cut your teenagers risk of a serious car accident by ½ by staying involved, setting rules, and being supportive. Having a parent involved in a teen’s life matters!

If you or your child are ever injured in a car accident, know that the Connecticut car accident lawyers at RisCassi & Davis have been assisting drivers injured in accidents for 60 years. And we have received both state and national recognition for our work in this area. If you are ever in a car accident of any kind and would like a free consultation with one of our Connecticut car accident lawyers, please contact us.  There is no obligation.