Teens often drive with the confidence of professional race car drivers. Unfortunately, they do not receive the same training or use the same degree of care as adults when behind the wheel. Teens aged 15-19 were involved in 81,986 crashes in Texas during 2015. If your teen is driving this year, warn him or her of the top causes of teen driving incidents.
According to the CDC, vehicle crashes take the number one spot among the top causes of death for American teens. The most common causes of teen driving accidents include:
- Distracted driving. Teens in 2017 seem to live on their mobile devices. While many jurisdictions in Texas ban texting while driving, and the state bans handheld device use for drivers under age 18, many teens and adults alike struggle to remain hands-free while behind the wheel.Mobile device use represents only part of the distracted driving problem teens face. When teens get into vehicles with other teenage drivers, they tend to focus more on the conversation at hand than the rules of the road. A fun song, a quick snack, and planning where to drive next can all interfere with a driver’s focus and contribute to an accident.
To remain a successful driver into adulthood, teenagers must practice keeping their attention on the road first at all times. The conversation, the song selection, and the incoming tweet can wait a few more minutes.
- Driver inexperience. Some driving schools are better than others, but nothing can take the place of hours of experience behind the wheel. Like flying and commercial vehicle driving, experience builds the reaction times and judgment skills teens need to make smart decisions.Unanticipated conditions including a roadway hazard, a deer darting across the street, a rainstorm deluge, or those dark winter mornings with black ice can all put inexperienced drivers to the test. To reduce the risks of driver inexperience, try to ride with your new teen driver in a variety of conditions before allowing him or her out alone.
- Drunk driving. Some teens will push the limits and decide to drink and drive despite the laws and despite adult warnings. A drunk and inexperienced driver on the roadways represents a serious risk to everyone on the road. Teens can ruin lives if they choose to get behind the wheel. Strongly encourage your child to call you, a sober friend, or call for an Uber ride instead of driving. Experimenting with alcohol is not a desirable teenage behavior, but drinking and driving is infinitely more serious.
- Reckless driving. When teens gain confidence behind the wheel, they may take more risks while driving. As young people, they want to go fast, live out their movie fantasies, and look cool doing it. Many adults may recall the same driving behaviors from their own youths. Speeding, following too closely, and zipping in and out of lanes doesn’t always seem like a big deal to young drivers. Males are more likely than females to drive recklessly and get involved in fatal crashes according to the CDC.
Look for new ways to tell teens about the risks of reckless driving. If the increase in insurance rates doesn’t serve as a warning, ask them to think about how they would feel after causing a deadly crash. Designers created simulators and legal racing tracks for speed. Highways filled with mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, and children are the wrong places to play with speeding.
Addressing Teenage Car Accidents
Make sure your teen understands what to do in the event of an accident. In accident claims, insurance adjusters and/or juries may hold a bias against teenage drivers who engage in unsafe driving behaviors. Help your child understand the importance of accident scene documentation and who to call immediately after an accident. Reacting to an accident is often just as important as prevention practices.