Teens are over four times more likely to get into a car accident than older drivers, and car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens ages fifteen to twenty.
Why are teenagers and car accidents so closely linked? There are at least three significant reasons.
Car Accidents and Teenagers #1: Inexperience
A seasoned driver knows, among other things, that its necessary to look twice at stop signs, that even if you have the green light you shouldnt automatically assume the other drivers are going to stop, that blind spots can keep you from seeing cars in other lanes, and that pedestriansespecially childrencan be unpredictable.
This isnt information gleaned from Drivers Education. Its learned the hard way, through experiencing and witnessing accidents and close calls. Teenagers havent been driving long enough to have gained this vital experience. Therefore, they are more likely to make naïve mistakes that can cost them dearly.
Car Accidents and Teenagers #2: Distraction
Multi-tasking has become a lifestyle for many teens. If youve ever seen a teenager simultaneously work on a homework assignment, eat a piece of pizza, chat on the phone with a friend, and listen to an iPod, then you have to admit theyve gotten pretty good at it.
But multi-tasking doesnt work so well for young drivers. Even experienced drivers often have accidents when they let their attention slip away from the road, and teens who become momentarily distracted by settling a debate between friends, changing the radio station, or extracting fast food from the bag are especially likely to have accidents because they do not have the experience to know how to keep a close call from becoming a collision.
Car Accidents and Teenagers #3: Alcohol
Nearly a quarter of teenagers killed in car accidents were found to be intoxicated. Alcohol causes accidents because it inhibits judgment and perception. Suddenly, going 80 miles per hour on a slick road or trying to pass another car on a hill seems like a good idea. The results are often tragic.
These three factors: inexperience, distraction, and alcohol seem to be the top players when it comes to car accidents and teenagers. Parents can help reduce their teenagers risk of being in a car accident by telling their teens about these factors, making sure their teens get plenty of supervised driving practice, and initially setting strict rules about driving, such as no friends in the car or no eating in the car.