Among US teens, car accidents are the leading cause of death, representing 36% of all teenage death, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When teenagers are in car accidents, they often sustain serious injuries, including burn injuries, fractures, facial injuries, spinal cord injuries, trauma, head injuries, and other serious wounds.
Sadly, some younger drivers have their entire lives cut short or hampered as a result of injuries sustained in car accidents. Injuries from car accidents can affect a teenager’s ability to attend school or hold down a job. The permanent injuries caused by some car crashes can affect a young driver’s future chances of employment. Worse, teens do not always fare well when seeking help. Since teen drivers are minors, they often have fewer chances to pursue legal action against other drivers’ negligence.
The statistics surrounding minors and car accidents are alarming. In 2004, 4,767 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 died of personal injuries caused by car crashes. In 2005, according to the CDC, almost 400,000 teen car occupants suffered injuries requiring emergency department treatment. Per mile driven, teen drivers are four times as likely as their older counterparts to crash. This makes car crashes one of the leading causes of injuries to minors and children.
There are many risks associated with teen driving. According to the CDC, teen drivers with teen passengers have a greater risk of crashing. Not wearing seat belts, being distracted by a cell phone, being tired behind the wheel, and driving while impaired can all affect a driver’s ability to drive safely. However, teenagers do not have to be driving in order to be at risk. Studies have shown that teenagers will knowingly be a passenger in a car with an impaired or unsafe driver at least some of the time.
Statistics show that teen drivers are more likely to be in a car accident during the first year they are on the road. Studies have revealed that this is partly because younger drivers are more likely than their older counterparts to dismiss or underestimate dangerous situations. Teen drivers have also proven to use excessive speed and to allow shorter headways when driving. Teens also have lower instances of seat belt use. The CDC reports that in 2005, 10% of high school students surveyed admitted that they rarely or never use seat belts when riding with someone else.
Luckily, the CDC reports that drivers licensing programs can reduce fatal car accidents up to 38% and can reduce car accident injuries by up to 40%. Good education can help teenagers and other drivers stay safer on the roads. Awareness of risk factors can also help minors make better decisions when operating a vehicle.