Teens Face Elevated Risk of Fatal Crashes

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A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that as soon as children reach the age of 13, their risk of dying in an automobile accident increases significantly. In one year, 4,114 Americans between the ages of 10 and 20 died in vehicle crashes.

No License, No Seatbelt Common Factors in Fatal Teen Driving Crashes

Lead researcher Allan Williams studied fatal crashes between 2005 and 2009 and discovered some alarming results:

  • Most teens involved in fatal accidents (63 percent) did not have a valid license or permit at the time. Some (10 percent) had a valid permit, but they were driving without an adult present
  • On average, 460 teens aged 13 to 15 died every year in auto wrecks (2293 total deaths in those age groups between 2005 and 2009)
  • When crashes killed teens ages 13 to 15, older teens (16 to 17 years old) were usually driving
  • The older teens were, the less likely they were to be wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident:
    • 40 percent of deceased 13-year-olds were wearing seatbelts
    • 36 percent of deceased 14-year-olds were wearing seatbelts
    • 30 percent of deceased 15-year-olds were wearing seatbelts

How Can We Prevent the Deaths of Young Teens in Car Accidents?

The IIHS states that graduated driver licensing is one way to reduce the number of teen deaths in car accidents. Graduated driver licensing or GDL programs requires young drivers with a permit to log several hours of driving with an adult in the car with them before they can drive a car by themselves.

While general statistics show a disturbing number of young teens dying in crashes, the IIHS indicates that deaths have dropped since the introduction of GDL programs some two decades ago. These programs allow teens to gradually improve their driving skills before becoming fully independent drivers. Several states, including Indiana, already utilize such programs.

Additionally, raising awareness of risky behavior could encourage safer driving. Distraction.gov reports that drivers under the age of 20 are more likely than any other age group to engage in distracted driving, one of the leading factors in fatal crashes in recent years.

If you lost a child in a fatal car, truck or motorcycle accident, consult with an Indianapolis car accident lawyer as soon as possible to find out if you have possible legal recourse for your indescribable loss.