Teen drivers are the most accident prone group of drivers on the roads. Many teenage drivers lack the training and hands-on experience to operate a vehicle with confidence and situational awareness to avoid accidents. Some teen drivers lack maturity and are prone to engage in impulsive or risky behavior, which puts themselves and others at risk.
Georgia has placed some restrictions on teen drivers such as a graduated driver’s license, a ban on using cell phones, and no driving between midnight and 5 a.m. for teens with intermediate licenses. Some additional measures have been recommended. Adding more restrictions on teen drivers is a step many people believe will help improve road safety and save lives. It could give teens an opportunity for further practice, so they can gain more proficiency, thus further minimizing the risk of accident, injury, or death.
Teenage Drivers’ Risk of Car Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention estimate that seven teenagers, between the ages of 16 and 19, are killed each day as a result of injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. In addition, almost 30 percent of the total costs related to car accident injuries in 2012 (the most current report to date) can be attributed to males ages 15 to 24, and 28 percent can be attributed to females in this same age group.
The CDC lists some of the primary factors that increase teenage drivers’ risk of car accidents:
- Driving with other teenage passengers
- Inability to recognize potentially hazardous scenarios
- Underestimation of dangerous situations
- Failure to wear a seat belt
- Alcohol consumption
- Driver distractions such as a cell phone or other electronic device
- Other types of risky driving behavior
- Nighttime driving
- Driving while drowsy
Statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its April 2014 “Young Drivers” report indicate:
- Drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 account for 8.3 percent of the population.
- 4,283 young drivers (between the ages of 15 and 20) were involved in fatal crashes in 2012.
- 1,875 young drivers lost their lives in vehicle-related accidents that same year.
- 184,000 young drivers sustained injury in motor vehicle collisions.
- Out of all the drivers involved in fatal collisions in 2012, 9.4 percent were between 15 and 20 years of age.
- Young drivers also accounted for 13.0 percent of all drivers involved in police-reported collisions.
In the state of Georgia, the most recent Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s report “2005-2011 Georgia Traffic Safety Performance Measures” indicates that over a seven year period, the number of teen drivers and drivers under the age of 21 who have been involved in fatal crashes has significantly declined.
|Drivers in Fatal Crashes||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012||2013|
|Age 15 and under||3||4||3||3||6||4||0|
|Ages 15 to 20||281||217||145||172||159||154||156|
|Under 21 years of age||284||221||148||175||165||158||156|
While this trend is definitely positive, teenage drivers still face a high risk of being involved in a car accident. The state could also take additional actions to improve highway safety, particularly as it applies to teen driving restrictions.
After a number of fatal accidents involving young, inexperienced drivers, Georgia adopted the Teenage & Adult Driver Responsibility Act, creating a graduated driver’s license program for young drivers ages 15 to 18. The law provides a controlled way for new drivers to gain driving experience while limiting their exposure to higher risk situations. For example, teen drivers in Georgia are restricted in the number of passengers under the age of 21 who are not family members, which they can carry while they have an intermediate Class D license. Teen passengers pose a significant distraction to young drivers.
Recommendations to Improve Highway Safety
The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recently gave Georgia a “Yellow” rating based on the number of recommended highway safety laws in effect. A yellow rating indicates a state is making progress, but still has additional steps to improve highway safety.
The following are some recommended laws that Georgia does not currently have, but could help improve highway safety:
- Primary enforcement of seat belt law for rear seats.
- Minimum age of 16 for learner’s permit (Georgia’s existing laws only require an individual to be 15 years of age before being able to obtain a permit).
- Nighttime driving restrictions for teen drivers. Effective in July 2014, Georgia prohibited drivers aged 16 to 18 with intermediate Class D licenses from driving between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Ignition interlock devices for all impaired driving offenders.
What to Do If You Are Hit by a Teenage Driver
If you have been hit by a teenage driver, you should obtain medical treatment at the scene for any injuries sustained in the accident. If no substantial injuries are evident, you should still seek medical attention as soon as possible for an evaluation. You could have a concussion or other internal injuries or other types of injuries that may not be obvious. Some people don’t feel injuries instantly due to the effects of adrenaline immediately following accidents.
It is important to gather license and insurance information for all involved parties, including insurance provider and policy number. Obtain contact information for any potential witnesses.
Take photos of the scene of the accident, skid marks, debris, involved parties, and other evidence that could help prove fault or cause.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a teenage driver, you should contact an Atlanta car accident attorney. A skilled attorney can evaluate your case, help determine whether the teen driver’s negligence was directly responsible for causing your injuries, and gather the evidence to prove fault. Your attorney can work directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to negotiate a settlement and improve your chances of obtaining full compensation for your injuries and loss.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Teen Drivers: Get the Facts
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Traffic Safety Facts 2012 Data: Young Drivers
- Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia: Georgia Crashes, Injuries & Fatalities Statistics
- Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety: 2015 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws