This week, October 21-27, is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Teens new to driving are at a high risk when they get behind the wheel. Consider the scope of the problem as illustrated by these statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens age 15-18 in the United States
- 1,972 teen drivers were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2015 (which are the latest available statistics)
- About 99,000 teen drivers were injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2015
- In the year 2013, the NHTSA found that over half of teens age 15-19 killed in motor vehicle accidents were not wearing a seat belt
Perhaps the greatest obstacle in front of a teen new to driving is their own inexperience. Driving is a skill that is learned over time, as the driver navigates variable conditions and learns how to respond. The crash risk for inexperienced teen drivers drops by over two-thirds after 1,000 to 1,500 miles of driving independently, according to the NHTSA.
So what can you do to help your teen gain experience safely and minimize the risks of an accident? First, it's important to know the most frequent causes of teen driving accidents:
- Alcohol use
- Too many passengers or passengers who are distracting the driver
- Drowsy driving
Additionally, teens are less likely to wear seat belts than adults. Wearing a seat belt is essential to preventing death and reducing injury in the event of a crash.
Next, take steps to demonstrate to your teen how they can mitigate the risk of a crash. One way you can do so is by modeling good behavior: Don't text and drive, don't drink and drive, and display calm, alert driving behavior. They will learn in part by watching you drive. Take the time to practice driving with your teen. Start by driving with them in a low pressure situation, maybe an empty parking lot and a calm neighborhood road. Build up gradually to busier roads, traffic, highways, merging, changing lanes and driving in poor weather.
If you or your teen has been injured in an accident caused by someone else's carelessness in Chicago, Oak Park, Berwyn or the surrounding areas in Illinois, please call the experienced lawyers at Sklare Law Group for a complimentary consultation. You can reach our office at 312-263-0771.