Are teens still more likely to be involved in car accidents?

748825_crash_car.jpgUnfortunately, the answer is yes due to inexperience, risk taking, driving distractions, technology, and inappropriate reactions to unfamiliar hazardous conditions.

There are thousands of studies done every year with just as many statistics reported. It is estimated that 5,000 teenage drivers are involved in a fatal car accidents and over 400,000 teens sustain serious injuries due to motor vehicle accidents. These accidents are due to speeding, reckless driving, drinking and driving, driving under the influence of drugs, texting, and the pressure of teenage passengers in the car.

In Suffolk County, New York, two teens were killed when the 17 year old driver lost control of his vehicle, his car left the roadway, struck a fence and then a tree. The driver was intoxicated and his two passengers were ejected from the car and died.

In Wheatland, New York four teenagers were trying to have a contest to see who could hold their breath the longest while they passed through town. The driver, 19, fainted during the contest, the vehicle drifted into oncoming traffic and crashed into a boulder.

Another article indicated a driver, 20 years old, was driving under the influence of prescription drugs when he lost control of the vehicle and both his passengers were ejected from the vehicle and died.

With respect to texting and driving, it should be noted that texting while driving carries an eight times greater risk of a car accident.

On May 8, 2012 the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety performed a study entitled “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and the number of Passengers“. The report confirms that “when peers are passengers in care with 16 and 17 year old drivers, this equals a very dangerous mix”. Carrying young passengers remains a significant risk factor for 16 and 17 year old drivers as opposed to the positive influence of adult passengers.

New York State has a Graduated Driver Licensing Law which is aimed at keeping inexperienced, unsupervised drivers off the road. Basically what they are trying to do is limit the new driver to unsupervised driving for a longer period of time. There are three stages: The first stage is the “permit” stage. This is the learning stage where a 16 year old gets his permit and is only allow to drive while supervised, and with many restrictions. This stage results in the teenager taking his/her road test. The next stage is the “Intermediate Stage” or the junior license stage. Again, this stage is to limit unsupervised driving with continued restrictions, though less than then permit stage. Then, after successfully completing the first two stages, the new driver graduates to the full privilege stage, or, the senior license. This is when the teenager has their full driver’s license without any restrictions.

Even though New York State has the Graduated Driver Licensing Laws, and they provide additional restrictions for new drivers, like any other program, this is not going to work if it is not enforced. This is where the parents play a very important role. For instance, when a child has their permit, they are not allowed, under any circumstances, to drive alone, yet some parents let the child “just run to the store quickly”. Or, when the child has their junior license, they may not drive after 9:00 p.m. alone. Again, some parents do not enforce this rule in their homes. The Laws are made for the children’s protection as well as other vehicles on the road. If the parents do not help to enforce these rules, then it is unlikely they are enforcing the rules of no texting while driving, drinking and driving, or reckless driving, thus helping add to the aforementioned statistics.

Parents clearly can play a major role in protecting their teenagers by riding with their teens, even after licensure, to continue to support the development of safe driving habits. In addition, parents can help to protect their teens from the risks associated with teenage drivers by enforcing applicable state restrictions, and by supplementing state laws with their own rules regarding driving.

If you or someone you know, have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, please contact the Law Office of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC. You can reach us at (914) 288-0800. We would like to help you through the difficult process and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us – we can help.