Teen Car Accidents

Teens think they are invincible. Until they are not.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death and injury to teens, and it’s well-established that drivers between the ages 15 and 19 have the highest crash rate of any age group.

Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm, represents families who have suffered as a result of a teen driver’s careless, reckless or inexperienced actions behind the wheel.

A recent report from the Florida Highway Patrol’s crash statistics report indicates:

  • Nearly 773,000 teens are licensed to drive in Florida.
  • Nearly 30,000 crashes in Florida each year involve teens.
  • Hundreds of teens die and more than 19,000 are injured in Florida car accidents.
  • Teens are twice as likely to crash as their parents and three times more likely to crash as their grandparents.
  • Although teens represent just 5 percent of the driving population, they account for 9 percent of the state’s crashes.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there were 2,650 teens killed in U.S. auto accidents in 2011. Another 292,000 were treated in emergency room departments for serious injuries. That is seven teen lives lost every day in this country due to auto accidents.

Why Teens Have Such a High Crash Rate

Teens comprise just 14 percent of the population, and yet they account for 30 percent of the total cost of accident injuries. Collectively, that costs the country $26 billion – about $1.05 billion of that in Florida.

While there are many factors cited in teen crashes, it can be boiled down to largely three factors: Immaturity/impulsiveness, inexperience and exposure. They are more likely to drive in dangerous conditions, yet often do not recognize the peril of certain situations or behaviors, and their response to these hazards is not sufficient or timely.

The University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center determined the majority of new drivers don’t have enough practical experience to handle the complex task of driving when they first receive a license.

Immaturity/Impulsiveness

Teens, especially those in the 15- and 16-year-old range, are not yet finished developing cognitively, socially, emotionally or biologically. There exists a lack of ability to consistently recognize risky driving behaviors or situations or to act appropriately. The danger is compounded the more teen passengers are in the vehicle.

There is also research to suggest teen drivers are more easily distracted, which is especially troublesome when coupled with lack of driving experience. In fact, a recent AAA study reveals teen distraction behind the wheel is even worse than previously believed, accounting for an astonishing 60 percent of all moderate-to-severe crashes involving teen drivers is precipitated by distraction.

Inexperience

In order to develop proficiency at driving, drivers need a great deal of actual driving practice in a myriad of situations. Driver’s education courses are the bare minimum, and there is only so much that can be learned in a classroom.

Although there is dispute about how much experience is enough, research suggest most drivers need at least two years. This is supported by the fact that crash rates are extremely high for the first six months of driving, and then decline steadily in the years that follow.

Exposure

Teens tend to more frequently place themselves in potentially dangerous situations. For example, they drive with lots of passengers and most often in the evening or at night. Both of these factors exponentially increase the chances of a crash.

It’s for these reasons that many states – including Florida – have passed graduated driver’s license laws in recent years.

Preventing Teen Driver Crashes

Because there are a number of factors that come to play in teen driver accidents, there is no single solution that will eradicate the problem entirely.

But there are a number of measures that, collectively, can help significantly.

These include:

  • Seat belts. Of the teens between the ages of 13 and 19 killed in crashes in 2012, more than half were not buckled up. While seat belts won’t prevent all deaths, they are shown to reduce fatality rates by roughly 50 percent.
  • Drive sober. Parents and law enforcement must work together to enforce the minimum legal drinking age, which is 21 in all states. There is zero tolerance in Florida for minors who drive impaired. Further, establishments that serve alcohol to minors can be prosecuted criminally and may be the subject of dram shop law civil litigation.
  • Graduated driver’s licensing systems. Driving is a skill that needs to be fine-tuned over time. Teen drivers need practice. The more a parent can drive with their teenager to help them build their skills, the better they will be. When GDL laws are followed, studies have shown they can reduce teen traffic deaths by as much as 40 percent. For more information on Florida’s graduated driver’s licensing laws, visit the website for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

As in most cases, chances of securing compensation following a teen car accident often greatly depend on the early involvement of a qualified personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.