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Fatal Teen Car Accidents Rise Precipitously in 2015

by John Gomez | Last Updated: November 11, 2016
Teen Car Accidents

It takes time to master any skill or task.  Children need time to learn how to ride a bicycle, to tie their shoes and to dress themselves in the morning.  It takes adults some time to learn a new hobby, musical instrument or how to cook a new dish.  While this learning curve is recognized, most things in this regard that we learn with trial and error do not carry potential consequences of exorbitant financial losses, serious injuries or even death.

That is what’s at stake when teens learn to drive a vehicle.  Every parent who has been through the period of seeing their child learn to drive understands the anxiety that comes with it.  Statistics tend to back up these feelings.  Unfortunately, a recent report shows that after some improvement, fatal teen car accident rates are on the rise.

About the Fatal Teen Car Accidents Report

The Governors Highway Safety Association, or GHSA, completed the report.  Those interested in reading it in its entirety can find it here.  Researchers completed the report by analyzing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data.  They reviewed data over a 10-year period between 2005 and 2014.  Overall, the GHSA found that fatal teen car accidents rose by a factor of 10 percent in 2015 as compared to 2014.  While this fact alone was not completely shocking, it was surprising that when broken down into more detail, “older” teens faced a higher risk than newer drivers.

Young Teens Vs. Old Teens

Between 2005 and 2014, the number of fatal teen car accidents did drop significantly before turning upward in 2015.  When the researchers broke down the fatal crash data between drivers who were 15 – 17 years old and drivers who were 18 – 20 years old, they found that the number of “older” teens involved in fatal car accidents more than doubled the number of “younger” teen drivers.  The report also showed that when viewed on the basis of fatal teen car accidents per 100,000 drivers, 34 older teens per 100,000 drivers were involved in crashes as compared to 32 younger teens.  Finally, both older and younger teens who were females were involved in far fewer fatal accidents than their male counterparts.

Fatal Teen Car Accidents and Alcohol

The GSHA went on to dig into the data relating to fatal teen car accidents and alcohol.  The GSHA found that nearly 40 percent of all teens involved in fatal car accidents were not tested for the presence of alcohol in their blood systems.  The research also revealed that 43 percent of younger teens and 38 percent of older teens who were tested had no alcohol in their systems.

Older teens were more likely to have had alcohol in their system that registered between 0.01 and 0.07 as compared to younger teens.  15 percent of older teens had a BAC of at least 0.08.  This is the legal limit for alcohol for those who are old enough to legally drink.  6 percent of younger teens registered a 0.08 or above.  When broken down by gender, males were more likely to have alcohol in their systems than female drivers.  This was true regardless of age group or actual amount of alcohol involved.

Fatal Teen Car Accidents and Distractions

Distracted driving is a serious problem for motorists of all ages.  The GHSA looked only at single-vehicle fatal crashes involving teen drivers.  That allowed them to eliminate the possibility of another driver being at fault for a crash.  “Other” distractions caused between 50 and 75 percent of all fatal teen car accidents involving a distracted driver.  These “other” distractions included daydreaming and a general loss of focus.  Electronics such as cell phones were the second most common distraction among teens killed in accidents regardless of age group.  Females were much more likely to be distracted by electronics than males in both the younger and older groupings.

Recommendations By the GSHA

The GSHA made several recommendations based on the data.  A few examples of these recommendations include:

  • Promote the benefits of having older teens completing a defensive driving program.
  • Send an early warning letter when older teens receive their first moving violations.
  • Reach out to parents to impart the importance of working with their teens on safe driving.
  • Partner with post-secondary educational institutions to help promote safe driving.
  • Disseminate safe driving messages through popular music and sports.

The commonality among these recommendations is that people need to be proactive in dealing with this growing problem.

Fatal Teen Car Accidents and Parents

Perhaps the most vital actors within this entire situation is the parents of teen drivers.  Parents obviously understand the nature of teens.  Teens tend to at least appear to ignore their parents.  Moms and Dads need to fight through that habit and work to communicate with their children effectively.  Safe driving prevent serious injuries or worse for their teen.  It will also eliminate the possibility that the teen driver will cause a car accident that seriously injures or kills someone else.  If this occurs, everyone involved will have to live with that occurrence.  The family of the teen driver could also face substantial legal and financial liability.

How a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you or someone you love has been harmed or worse by a teen driver, you need to take steps to make sure that your legal rights are properly protected and enforced.  In order to do so, you should seek the advice of an experienced professional who has earned a track record of success in standing up for the rights of clients.

If you have lost someone you love because of a negligent driver, you need to allow that experienced professional to handle the legal fallout from the crash so that you can focus on your family and your emotional recovery.  If any of this sounds tragically familiar, contact a San Diego car accident lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.

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