According to statistics, teen motorists are more likely to be in a car crash than motorists who belong to an older age group. In 2012 alone, 39 people ages 16 to 20 died in Massachusetts car crashes—that’s over 11% of all traffic deaths in the state that year. This figure is higher than the national average of 9.6% .
Driver inexperience is the most common cause of young driver traffic accident. Other common causes include speeding, poor seatbelt use, alcohol, and distracted driving.
Just this month an Attleboro teen died in a single auto collision. Christopher Hutcheon 18, was accompanied by other teens in a 2000 Toyota Camry when the vehicle struck a tree in Mansfield. The car, which another teen was driving, split in two. Hutcheon suffered a collapsed long and ruptured spleen. He was placed in a medically induced coma before later passing away.
Last month, another teen driver died when his vehicle went off the road in a Winchester traffic accident. Patrick Gill was pronounced dead at a Burlington hospital.
Also last month, a Lynn, MA teen driver was charged with Operating Under the Influence in a hit-and-run case that left four people injured. Nery Martin-Lopez, 19, reportedly struck three other cars while drunk. He pleaded not guilty to criminal charges.
Like any new driver, young drivers become better motorists with time. However, their youth and experience does make them higher risk driver than older, more experience motorists for a number of reasons, including:
• A propensity to underestimate dangerous situations, take unnecessary risks, or speed
• The lowest rate of seat belt use compared to drivers in other age groups.
• Inexperience with dealing with emergency situations on the road
• Distracted driving, whether from driving with other teens in the car or using cell phones to call people and send text messages
• Driving under the influence
• Reckless driving
This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Among the initiatives to mark the occasion is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Parents are Key” campaign. There also is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “5 to Drive” campaign, which was introduced by the government agency last year. Both programs encourage guardians and parents to get involved.
NHTSA is also recommending that teen drivers refrain from cell phone use for texting or talking while driving, drive under the speed limit, refrain from carrying extra passengers, wear a seatbelt, and drive sober. In a statement to Reuters, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox noted that even though the number of young driver deaths and related crashes have gone down, the amount of teenagers injured in traffic accidents is still significant. Motor vehicle crashes continue to be one of the major causes of teen deaths.
In Massachusetts, the state has a graduated driver licensing program, called the Junior Operator’s License (JOL) program, which takes place in stages over a couple of years for young motorists. The program is an effort to minimize the risks for teen drivers by gradually preparing them for the challenges of operating a motor vehicle.
At Altman & Altman our Boston car accident lawyers represent teenagers (and their families) who were injured in a traffic accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence.
Parents are Key to Safe Teen Drivers, CDC
NHTSA Unveils '5 to Drive' Teen Safety Campaign To Reduce High Death Rate of Teens, NHTSA, October 22, 2013
Teen drivers at greatest risk, Wicked Local, October 16, 2014
More Blog Posts:
US DOT Aims New 'Don't Text and Drive' Commercial at Distracted Drivers, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, April 7, 2014
Massachusetts Suspends ET-Plus Guardrail Use Because of Traffic Injury Risks, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, October 21, 2014
Paxil Birth Defect Lawsuit Is Sent Back to State Court, Massachusetts Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, October 13, 2014