Getting a learner’s permit, taking driver’s ed, and getting a driver’s license are important milestones for teen drivers. Unfortunately, despite these steps, teen drivers make more mistakes that endanger others on the road. Read on to understand the risks associated with new drivers and what to do if you are in an accident.
Statistics on Teenage Car Crashes
When new drivers take the road, they are much more likely than more experienced drivers to get into or cause an accident. In the United States, almost 2,500 teenagers died in car accidents in one recent year; this is in addition to the approximately 285,000 whom emergency departments treated for crash injuries. Putting these statistics in perspective, every day about seven teens die in motor vehicle crashes. These crashes result in approximately $11.8 billion in medical and work loss costs.
In Texas, 309 crashes in one recent year involved drivers aged 16 through 19 and more than 1,600 resulted in suspected serious injuries. One study indicates that teen drivers in Texas are some of the most dangerous in the U.S., with 39.3 percent of teens reporting that they text and drive and 7.1 percent reporting that they drink and drive.
Certain groups of teens are at even higher risk of death or injury:
- Teens aged 16 to 19. This group is nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
- Male teen drivers. The death rate for males aged 16-19 is about two times higher than for female drivers of the same age.
- Teens driving with teen passengers. When teen passengers are in the vehicle with teen drivers, the risk of a crash increases.
- Newly licensed teens. The risk of a crash is at its highest within the first few months a teen has their license. The crash rate for 16-year-olds is 1.5 times higher than for 18 and 19-year-olds.
Risk Factors for Teen Drivers
Several risk factors increase the risk of a crash for teen drivers:
- Inexperience: Teens have spent much less time behind the wheel than most other drivers. Their ability to adapt to difficult driving conditions or recognize a dangerous situation is more limited.
- Nighttime and weekend driving: Teens are less likely to be driving during commuting hours and more likely to be driving on nights and weekends. A significant portion of teenage car crashes occurs during this time.
- Restraint use: Teens and young adults are the least likely age groups to wear seat belts. This significantly increases the risk of death or serious injury in an accident.
- Distracted driving: Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road increases the risk of a crash. A study found that in 2019, 39 percent of teen drivers texted or emailed while driving at least once in the last 30 days.
- Speeding: Teen drivers are generally more willing to take risks while driving, including speeding.
- Alcohol use: Any alcohol consumption is more likely to result in a crash for teen drivers than for older drivers.
Who Is Responsible for Teen Accidents?
If you are a teen who was in an accident, or if you were in an accident with a teenager, you need a lawyer who can determine who was responsible for the accident to secure compensation for your injuries.
Some possibilities include:
- Negligent driver: A driver who acts negligently is responsible for a resulting accident and injuries. Negligent actions include violating traffic rules and regulations, such as drinking and driving, speeding, and distracted driving.
- Driver’s ed school: If the accident involved a driver’s ed car, consider whether the driver’s ed school is responsible. If an instructor or other employee was careless or negligent in their instruction duties or if the driver’s ed car was defective or poorly maintained, the school may be responsible.
- Employee: If the driver, including a teen, is operating in the scope of their employment responsibilities at the time of the accident, the employer may be responsible.
- Vehicle manufacturer: The manufacturer is sometimes responsible for the safety or mechanical failures in a vehicle in an accident.
A lawyer can work with you to analyze the accident and available evidence to determine liability.
Recovering Compensation for Your Injuries
If the negligent or intentional actions of another party caused an accident that resulted in your injuries, you can seek compensation from the negligent party for your accident-related damages.
Work with an attorney to evaluate all your damages, such as:
- Medical expenses: Keep track of all your medical expenses so that you can seek reimbursement from the defendant. In addition to medical expenses you have already incurred, you can seek compensation for future expenses like rehabilitation, physical therapy, or assistive devices.
- Lost income: If you must miss work or work a reduced schedule because of your injuries, you can seek compensation for your lost wages—including future lost wages and reduced earning potential.
- Emotional distress: Car accident victims often suffer from emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. You can seek compensation for any emotional distress resulting from the accident.
- Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries limit your ability to participate in an activity that was previously an important part of your life, you can seek compensation for this loss.
Look for a car accident lawyer who can include all your accident-related expenses in the damages demand because you will use it to measure against any settlement offer. If your case goes to trial, the jury will need to review it.
An experienced car accident attorney will be one of your most valuable partners as you manage recovery after an accident with a teenage driver. Contact The Law Offices of George Salinas for a free initial consultation today.