Young drivers lack experience and often make critical mistakes. This is not to stereotype teenagers and other young people, but simply to point out some of the critical facts underscoring the risk: A mere 6 percent of American drivers range from 15 years old to 20 years old, but these same people find themselves in around 13 percent of injury accidents and 10 percent of deadly accidents.
This shows that they crash far more often than they should. They cause more than twice as many injury accidents as you’d expect, and they cause nearly that many more fatal wrecks. This also implies that other age groups get in car accidents far below their own population percentages. Why are young drivers so dangerous?
Reasons vary, naturally, but inexperience plays a role. As with any other learned skill, people make more mistakes when they have not done something for as long. A teen who has had a license for just a few months may not see the threat of obvious hazards — a construction zone or dangerous weather, for instance — and cause a crash that a 40-year-old would avoid. This explains why accident rates decrease as drivers get older and learn from their previous mistakes.
Of course, teenagers and adults can get distracted behind the wheel. Plenty of adult drivers have caused fatal accidents while texting and driving or talking on the phone. However, young drivers tend to use technology more often, and they also face social pressures. For instance, a teen may not want to ignore a text for fear of missing out on an event with friends, while an adult driver may wait to get home before reading the text.
One study specifically examined distracted driving, and it found that a teen who picked up a phone to call a friend was 8 times as likely to get in an accident or almost cause a wreck as a teen who kept their eyes on the road. When texting, teens were 4 times as likely to crash. Even eating and driving made young people 3 times as likely to get in a wreck.
While adults also faced high crash risks when dialing a number on the phone, the study found they were only twice as likely to get in a wreck. That means that a teen driver who decides to eat a piece of toast on the way to school is statistically more dangerous than an adult driver on a cellphone.
Your rights after an accident
Have you gotten injured in an accident with a teen driver or a distracted driver? Make sure you know all of the legal rights you have to seek financial compensation.