Every year approximately 94,479 people are injured in crashes involving teen drivers. Among those injured, 17,000 will face significant life-altering injuries including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, skull fractures, and internal organ injuries. Cohen & Sinowski who are personal injury lawyers in Atlanta see cases every year where teen inexperience, distraction, and immaturity resulted in serious injury. Even as teens are instructed to put away their cell phones and to turn off the radio while driving, there are several lesser known hazards that can lead to accidents. Here are five surprising causes of teen crashes.
- According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 76% of teens report having seen other teens driving while under the influence of negative emotions. Teens who drove while angry were more likely to engage in road rage. Half of teens surveyed reported seeing teen drivers exhibit road rage behaviors. Teens are prone to experience dramatic emotional changes. It is important that teens engage in a dialogue about the characteristics of road rage before they get behind the wheel. Teens should avoid driving while under the influence of strong emotions. Counting to ten and pulling over instead of driving onward may prevent countless accidents each year.
- Improper hazard detection. Teen drivers don’t have the same experience as older drivers. When a driver spots a hazard, the driver has approximately two seconds to react. Drivers with less experience may not be able to react to hazards as quickly, and some may not even be able to detect important hazards.
- Unlicensed driving. Despite the implementation of graduated licensing in Atlanta, many teen drivers get behind the wheel without proper licensing. Those who break the law are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors. 44% of unlicensed teen drivers won’t wear a seat belt, and as many as 21% will drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Georgia Department of Driver Services implemented Joshua’s Law, requiring teen drivers to have 40 hours of supervised driving and completion of a driver education course.
- Parental example. According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, research indicates that the best way to prevent teen auto accidents is to have parents model and practice safe driving habits. Parents should not use cell phones or engage in distracted driving.
- Other teens in the car. According to a survey of teen driving habits, 94% of teens observed teen passengers engaging in activities that would distract the driver. And, half of teen passengers encouraged drivers to speed. Georgia’s graduated license program restricts the number of passengers teens can have in the car when driving.
Distracted driving, drug and alcohol use, driving while drowsy, and failure to obey road laws are all causes of accidents for teens and adults alike. Auto accident law firms in Atlanta like Cohen & Sinowski, P.C. see far too many accidents each year that could have been easily prevented. Parents have a moral—and legal—responsibility over what their teens do when they are behind the wheel. By addressing the common and not-so-common causes of teen crashes, parents, driving schools, and other stakeholders can work together to keep teens and other road users safe.