Teen Driver Accidents: Causes and Consequences


Teen Driver Accidents: Causes and Consequences

What Happens When Teen Drivers Cause Serious Car Crashes in Indiana and Illinois

When there is an auto accident caused by a teen driver, statistics warn of the likelihood that the crash will involve the death or serious injury of the teen driver, his or her passengers, or others on the road with that teenager behind the wheel. These accidents are usually serious, often deadly.

As part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, our focus this week is on keeping teen drivers safe while driving on the road — and increasing public awareness of the dangers facing teen drivers today.

For details on what defines a “teen driver” in Indiana and Illinois today, see our previous post. Teen drivers in both Indiana and Illinois are allowed to drive; however, specific restrictions are placed upon them. These include things like curfews and a prohibition against using their phones in the car.

Motor Vehicle Accidents Leading Cause of Death for Teens

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) research warns of the high risk facing teenagers in motor vehicles.

Accidents on the road are the number one cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 19 years in the United States.

In 2014, for instance, there were 2679 teen drivers who died in fatal car crashes. Another 123,000 teenagers were seriously injured that year in motor vehicle accidents.

These are statistics warning of the danger to the teen driver, and the risk this driver will be seriously injured or die in an auto accident. These are tragedies, of course.

However, there are also the dangers that are not included here: the injuries and fatalities suffered by passengers or other drivers involved in the crash, for instance. Or the pedestrians, bicyclists, etc., who were hit by the car or truck.

Teen driver accidents can be very horrific and life-changing for many families, and the losses are exponential when calculated.

Causes of Teen Driver Crashes

What causes these teen driver accidents? There are several factors. Among them (and we’re not even including the most obvious cause here, distracted driving):

1. Teens Driving Drunk

Sadly, all too often teen drivers are getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. In fact, NHTSA estimates that around 25% of fatal teen driving crashes involve a teen driver who was a drunk driver. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 20% of teens had been passengers of a teen driver who had been drinking (2015 data) and that 17% of teen drivers in 2014 had a blood alcohol content of .08% or more (2014 data).

2. Teens Don’t Like to Wear Seat Belts

According to the CDC, teenagers don’t like to wear safety belts. Teens reportedly have the lowest compliance rates for wearing safety belts of any age group in this country. The CDC found that only 61% of high school teens wear seat belts as passengers (2015 data) and that 64% of teen drivers killed in drunk driving accidents weren’t wearing their safety belt (2014 data).

3. They Like to Drive Fast

Teen drivers apparently like to drive fast. Male teen drivers apparently like to speed more than the girls do, though. CDC data shows that having a male teenager in the car as a passenger also increases the risk of a teen driver going over the speed limit while driving. The CDC found that 36% of the male drivers 15 -20 years old who died in a motor vehicle accident while driving were speeding at the time of their crash.

4. They Don’t Appreciate Risk and Dangers on the Road, Particularly on Weekends and After Dark

Teen drivers are known to make errors when considering hazards on the road, as well as downplaying the dangers that they may be facing. These teen drivers accordingly are more likely than more experienced drivers to crash as a result.

Additionally, leisure hours (weekends, evenings, night) are more dangerous for teen drivers. The CDC research found that in 2014, for example, HALF of all teen deaths in motor vehicle accidents happened between three o’clock in the afternoon and midnight. And 53% of teen deaths in motor vehicle accidents happen on either a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Teen Driver Accidents: What Happens Next?

After there has been a serious car crash involving a teen driver, emotions are high. These are horrific events, and the grief is even more powerful because the accidents are usually preventable — and the victims are so young, with so much of life denied them because of the crash.

There cannot be too much sympathy and comfort given to a teen driver and his family after a serious motor vehicle accident. These are tragedies.

However, there may be other families and loved ones grieving, too. These will be those who suffered as passengers or victims of the teen driver accident. Passengers in the car with the teen driver who were hurt or killed. Passengers in a vehicle hit by the teen driver. Pedestrians walking on the street, or jogging along the roadside, when the teen driving crash occurred. Someone riding their bike home from school.

Teen drivers may cause accidents where the tragedy envelopes lots of innocent third parties in its wake.  For these victims, Indiana and Illinois personal injury laws act to help them deal with the consequences of the event.

Medical costs, pain and suffering, therapy expenses and more may be covered by these negligence statutes and accident case law. There may be situations where the parents come into the litigation, as well, if arguments like “negligent supervision” apply.

  • Was the teen driver driving outside of license limitations at the time of the crash? Was this with the parents’ knowledge or approval?
  • Other adults may become parties here if social host laws are involved (teens at a party or gathering where alcohol was served).
  • Was beer knowingly served to the teen driver?

Victims of teen drivers must assess their situation according to its unique circumstances and the appropriate state laws that apply. If victims have perished in the crash, then state Wrongful Death Statutes may be involved. An experienced personal injury lawyer can be of help here. Let’s be careful out there!

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