How Dangerous Are Teen Drivers? The Answer May Shock You

Gabriel A. Assaad
Partner Gabriel Assaad represents victims of negligence and medical malpractice nationwide.

Many teenagers look forward to the day when they are able to get behind the wheel and start driving. The thrill of freedom is one of the driving forces behind the excitement—as well as the pride they feel after accomplishing such a major task. What many teenaged drivers don’t often understand, however, is just how large of a responsibility driving is. With just one wrong decision or slip of a hand, these new drivers can cause major accidents that result in serious injuries—even death.

The Scope of the Problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the United A Happy Teenager Holding Car KeysStates. In fact, in 2013, just over 2,000 teenagers in the United States, 16 to 19 years old, were killed, and 243,243 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries that were caused by car accidents. In other words, six teenagers, 16 to 19 years old, died every day in the United States during that time frame.

Although young people (ages 16 to 24 years old) represent less than 15 percent of the population, they account for 30 percent—$19 billion—of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males, and 28 percent—$7 billion—of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among females.

Why Teenaged Drivers Often Involved in Car Accidents

Statistically, teen drivers are some of the most dangerous drivers on the road, and many lose their lives, particularly in the summer. In addition to inexperience, a variety of other factors cause these young drivers to cause so many crashes, including:

  • Teenagers are more likely than adult drivers to underestimate dangerous situations. They may not be able to recognize hazardous conditions, such as inclement weather.

  • Teenagers have the lowest rate of seat belt use compared to other age groups. In fact, in 2013, only 55 percent of high school students polled reported that they always wear their seat belts when riding with someone else.

  • Teenagers are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways—the distance between the front of one vehicle and the back of another directly in front. Males are more likely than females to engage in these types of behavior. In fact, of the male drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were involved in fatal crashes in 2012, 35 percent were speeding at the time of the crash.

  • Many teens drive while intoxicated. In 2013, almost 20 percent of the drivers ages 16 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had blood alcohol concentration levels of .08 percent or higher. Among male drivers ages 15 to 20 years old who died in crashes in 2012, 25 percent had been drinking. Additionally, in a national survey that was conducted in 2013, just over 20 percent of teens reported that within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had ingested alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel.

  • Teenagers are more likely to engage in distracted driving. Teens are often tempted to text, talk on their phones, and engage with other passengers when driving than older people are.

License Regulations in Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., drivers under 21 years of age must satisfy the requirements of the Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers (GRAD) program before they are able to get behind the wheel. At age 16, they are able to receive learners’ permits, which requires that they are only able to drive when a licensed adult driver is providing supervision. After completing the driving requirements of the GRAD program for the learners’ permit, drivers at least age 16-and-a-half can receive provisional licenses, which allows them to drive unsupervised during specific days and times, and limits the amount of passengers able to drive in the vehicle with them. Once a teenager completes the requirements of the provisional license, he is then able to take the test to receive his drivers’ license at 17 years of age.

Act Now to Receive the Compensation You Deserve

The attorneys at Kennedy Hodges, LLP may be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve after being involved in a car accident. Schedule your appointment today by calling 855.947.0707 to start learning more about your rights.