Teen Drivers in More Fatal Accidents Through First Half of 2011

The number of 16- and 17-year-old drivers who died on the road increased for the first six months of 2011, with an 11 percent rise from the same period in 2010. The Governors Highway Safety Association conducted the study, which proposed two main reasons for the increase:

  • The Great Recession lowered the number of teens who could afford to drive, and because of the improving economy that number is now increasing
  • Graduated driver licensing programs for teens, enacted in every state, initially drastically reduced teen driver fatalities - which have subsequently leveled off

There are several reasons why teens are more likely to get into an auto accident. Distracted driving, failure to use a seatbelt and drunk driving are all prominent factors in many accidents involving teenagers. Teens are also simply inexperienced drivers and therefore more likely to get into an accident.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that teen drivers are 50 percent more likely to get into a crash in the first month of driving than after a year of driving. GDL programs that restrict the number of teenagers allowed in a car driven by a teen and limiting nighttime driving have done much to increase teen safety.

In New Jersey, for example, a teen must first obtain a learner's permit, which requires the teen to be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. A teen can then receive a probationary driver's license, which requires that the teen be buckled in, cannot drive after 11:01 p.m. or before 5:00 a.m., and limits the number of passengers without a parent or guardian in the vehicle to one.

National campaigns also aim to improve teen driving safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been targeting distracted driving for the last several years. Its official site, distraction.gov, aims to inform teenagers of the risks of distracted driving. For example, the NHTSA reports that 20 percent of all injury-causing accidents and 16 percent of all accidents with fatalities involve distracted driving.

Preventing the tragedy of teen fatalities is possible. Unfortunately, accidents involving teens occur all too frequently. If you or your child has been injured in a car wreck, contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to discuss your options regarding compensation.