For most teens, getting their driver's license is a monumental and long-awaited benchmark that signals freedom and a giant leap into independence and adulthood. For the parents of these ecstatic children, it is just one more reason you won’t be sleeping as well as you did before you became a parent. Traffic accident rates for 16- to 19-year old drivers are higher than those for any other age group and the Phoenix Accident Attorneys at Kamper & Simmons want your teens to stay safe. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the risk factors for teen driver accidents include:
- Poor hazard detection – The ability to detect driving hazards is a skill developed over time. Young drivers sometimes lack the perception and information-gathering skills involved in properly identifying these hazards. Defensive driving to avoid the negligence of others is a skill developed through time and experience that teens have not acquired.
- Low-risk perception & overconfidence – Risk perception involves assessing the degree of threat that is posed by a hazard. Novice drivers tend to underestimate the risk in hazardous situations and overestimate their skills to avoid a crash.
- Risk-Taking – Teenagers tend to take more risks while driving and are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, running red lights, violating traffic signs and signals, making illegal turns, passing dangerously, and failing to yield to pedestrians.
- Distracted Driving – While this does fall under risk-taking and low-risk perception, distracted driving, especially in the form of texting and cell phone use is rapidly becoming one of the leading causes of fatal crashes.
- Not wearing seat belts – Teenagers tend to wear safety belts less often than older drivers. We all know that seatbelts are indispensable in preventing or minimizing injuries in a crash.
- Lack of skill – Novice teenage drivers typically have not yet mastered basic vehicle handling skills and safe-driving knowledge they need to drive safely.
- Alcohol and drugs – Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a common cause of serious crashes involving teenage drivers.
- Carrying passengers – For teenagers, the risk of being in a crash is 3.6 times higher when they are driving with passengers than when they are driving alone. The risk increases as the number of passengers increases. Passengers may distract the teen driver and encourage risky behaviors.
- Night driving – The crash rate for teenaged drivers is 3 times higher after 9:00 pm. This may be because the task of driving at night is more difficult; they have less experience driving at night than during the day; they are more sleep-deprived, and/or because teenage recreational driving, which often involves alcohol, is more likely to occur at night.