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Teen Driving

What is the number one killer of teenagers in America? It’s not drugs…it’s motor vehicle accidents.

According to a recent study, more than 14,000 teenagers are killed in car accidents every year. Even though teenagers comprise just 13% of all licensed drivers, they account for almost a third of all traffic accidents (28%) and nearly one in four fatal accidents (24%). This blog post looks at some of the reasons teenagers are more likely to be involved in accidents, and some of the steps parents can take to minimize the risks.

The Factors that Lead to Higher Accident Rates Among Teens

The most obvious factor that results in higher incidences of motor vehicle accidents involving teens is experience. Driving a car is an experience unlike any other. Unfortunately, many teenagers get all or most of their experience on the road, with other drivers.

Other factors that are more prevalent among teens include:

  • A likelihood to engage in high risk behavior, especially among male teenagers. This can often involve peer pressure, rites of passage, or one-upmanship. Statistics show that when male teenagers travel together in a vehicle, there is an increase in speeds, and a decrease in attention to the road and to traffic laws, signs and signals.
  • Teenage drivers are more inclined to exceed the speed limit, to tailgate, to cross the center line and to make wide or dangerous turns. They are also more likely to misjudge their speed, as well as their ability to handle a vehicle in a turn.
  • Many teenagers are experimenting with drugs or alcohol at the same time they are learning to drive. A recent report indicated that 24% of teenage motor vehicle accident fatalities involved drinking and driving.
  • Teenagers historically have extremely low seat belt use rates. Some surveys put it at less than 10%.
  • Teens are more inclined to be using devices while driving, either talking on a cell phone, sending a text message, or playing with a stereo.

What You Can Do to Minimize the Risk that Your Teenager Will Be in a Car Accident

The most important thing you can do is provide instruction, supervision and guidance to your children as they learn to drive. You should establish a set of rules governing when they can use the car, who can ride with them, where they can go, and how long they can be gone. It goes without saying that you should instruct them to obey all traffic laws, including those prohibiting drinking and driving.

You can install a GPS or other tracking device that will tell you where your children go, or even where they are at any time. Some of these devices will provide information about speed rates, times of departure, and will notify you whenever the child has turned the vehicle on or off.

Because cell phones and others devices are often a cause of motor vehicle accidents involving teens, you may want to see if your cell phone provider offers a service that disables the phone while your child is driving.

Contact Metzger & Kleiner

At Metzger & Kleiner, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 215 622-2210 in Philadelphia, 610 563-2186 in the Lehigh Valley, or toll free at 800 228-1760.

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