The leading cause of death of 16-18 year olds is not so-called “assault weapons,” vaccinations, alleged climate change, video games, GMO food or all the other crises the news reports on every night.
It is automobile crashes. As an injury lawyer, it is a sad reality I live with each day.
Beginning teen drivers are, in fact, much more dangerous on the road than other drivers. How much more? Those beginning drivers, aged 16-19, have the single highest crash risk per mile driven of any age group! Night driving for teens ramps up the rate by a factor of four! That is why their insurance is so alarmingly high.
Here are the factors that seem to contribute:
• Speeding: It is no secret that teens have more risky behavior. The results bear this out, with about a third of accidents having excessive speed as a factor.
• Seat Belts: The vast majority of teens killed did not bother to wear their seat belt. Why? It’s the law. It’s smart. But, many feel immortal as teens.
• Distractions: Texting and driving is epidemic. Passengers do not just add weight to the vehicle, they also add distractions: Phones, video, laughter, horseplay, joking, screaming, hanging out windows the like can contribute to those group fatality accidents that scare us parents.
• Driver Error: More than half of all fatal teen accidents are simply caused by bad or delayed decisions by the inexperienced driver.
So, are teens just bad drivers? Not really. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teens driving with parents in the car have a very low crash rate.
These factors and findings are part of the reason why graduated drivers licensing has been adopted in Tennessee. They deal with timing and passengers and allow more time for training. There are three phases:
1. Learner permit: Anyone under the age of 18 who has a learner permit will be prohibited from driving between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. When driving, permit holders must have a licensed driver age 21 or older in the vehicle with them.
2. Intermediate Restricted License. Family and one passenger, with time restrictions.
3. Full Drivers License.
What do you think about these laws? Are you as surprised as I am that we even survived our teen driving years? Restrict, teach, train, love and pray. Drive safely.