As the newest drivers on the roads, teens are also in the greatest danger. According to data reported by the CDC, the number one cause of death among teenagers are vehicular crashes.
There are a number of reasons for this. Because teens have just started out driving, they have less experience and aren’t always able to anticipate and react well to dangerous situations on the road. In general, teenagers are also more irresponsible. They tend to make more impulsive decisions and take risks that more mature people would shy away from; they may speed, drink and drive, use their cell phones or text.
There’s also another risk to be considered with teen driving. It’s related to what we’ve mentioned so far, but needs to be considered separately. And that risk involves the number of passengers, and the age of the passengers, who accompany teen drivers.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that, when it comes to novice drivers ages 16 and 17, the risk of a deadly accident goes up with each additional passenger under the age of 21 that they transport in their car.
Why might this be? Younger passengers tend to be more distracting; they may make a lot of noise, or reach into the front area of the card and fiddle with the radio or annoy the driver in other ways. They might also put pressure on the driver to take more risks; a teen driver might listen and give in to their pressure, especially if they’re friends or peers they want to impress.
Another interesting finding in the study, however, shows that if there’s a passenger over the age of 35, the risk of a teen driver getting into a fatal accident goes down. Having a more mature person in the car probably makes the driver and any other passengers calmer; an older passenger might also be more alert to any dangerous situations on the road or problems with the teen’s driving.
Educating yourself about these risks is a start to preventing potentially serious accidents, including those leading to fatalities. If, in the aftermath of an accident, you need to speak to a Montgomery County accident lawyer, don’t hesitate to contact us. But to minimize the chances of an accident to begin with, be sure to work with teens, discussing these risks with them, laying down road rules (including a limit to the number of friends they can drive with), and setting a good example for safe behavior while driving.
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