Car Crashes are Leading Cause of Teenage Deaths in the United States

Turning 16 can be an exciting time for most young teens as they learn how to drive and get their driver’s licenses. To many teenagers, it seems like the door to the rest of their lives is opening as driving can allow them to discover a newfound sense of freedom and independence. However, for parents of young teens taking to the road, watching their kids hit the streets can bring about fear, anxiety, and dread. According to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States.

Facts about Teen Driving

  • Teen drivers become more at risk for accidents because of drowsy driving, impaired driving, lack of seat belt use or improper seat belt use, unsafe speed, and overall lack of experience
  • Newly licensed teens, teen passengers aged 16-20, and child passengers aged seven to 15 are the most at risk to become victims of car accidents involving teen drivers
  • Around 47 percent of teen passengers and drivers who died in a car accident in 2018 were not wearing a seatbelt
  • Teen drivers involved in accidents resulting in paralysis, incapacitation, or death are found at fault around 78% of the time 

How Serious is the Problem?

Teen car crashes and the associated injuries and fatalities are a severe ongoing problem in the United States. Around 2,500 teenagers in the United States aged 13-19 were killed in 2018 by injuries related to motor vehicle accidents. In the same year, approximately 285,000 teens were treated in emergency rooms and hospitals for injuries sustained in a car crash. According to these statistics provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, hundreds of teenagers were injured in car crashes, and every day, around seven teenagers died due to car crash-related injuries. In addition to the personal injuries and lives lost to motor vehicle incidents, in 2018, teen-related car crashes resulted in around 11.8 billion dollars in medical fees and work loss costs.

There are many causes for teenage car accidents. According to the CDC, the eight most common causes of teen crashes are: driver inexperience, driving with teenage passengers, nighttime driving, improper use of seatbelts, distracted driving, drowsy driving, reckless driving, and impaired driving. Sharing the common causes of teen-related car accidents with young drivers can help them be more aware of the many dangers that come with driving and prompt them to avoid these tendencies and behaviors. 

Parents should practice safe driving practices in front of their children, such as buckling their seat belts, adhering to local speed guidelines, and not being on the phone while driving to ingrain safe driving habits into teenagers at a young age. It is essential for teenagers to know the laws in their states, such as primary and secondary seat belt laws allowing law enforcement to penalize a driver if the driver or passengers are not wearing a seatbelt. 

While motor vehicle crashes can be avoided and proven safe driving practices and strategies can significantly improve a driver’s security on the road, car accidents still happen every day. Some parents have a difficult time talking to their children about safe driving practices.  They should seek local and state resources such as Graduated Driver Licensing courses or other informational sources regarding safe driving to share with their young drivers. Additionally, parents currently dealing with the stress of a child’s car accident should contact a Houma car accident lawyer for legal guidance and representation.