Teen Drivers are Dangerous, But They Can Be Made Safer

February 4th, 2019 by Wapner Newman

Teen Drivers

Statistically, the most dangerous drivers in Pennsylvania are the least experienced. With experience, common sense and the development of courtesy to other drivers, most of these teens will drive more safely as time passes. Just like anyone else handling something potentially dangerous, like a knife, chainsaw or hunting rifle, with more experience and knowledge should come safer behavior.

More teens are putting off driving until they are older, which is a good thing. The brain of a 20-year-old is more mature and better able to handle the challenges of driving than one that’s 16 years old. Young drivers usually get themselves into trouble not because they lack skill but due to poor judgment. They may not appreciate the danger they’re in or may choose the wrong option to get out of a dangerous situation.

The number of teenagers killed in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by nearly 50% in the last decade, according to Jane Brody’s column in the New York Times, but vehicle accidents are still the leading cause of adolescent death and injury in the U.S. Since 2014, teenage motor vehicle accident deaths have increased, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Driver education courses help students pass a licensing examination, but there’s little evidence that it produces safer drivers. Graduated driver licensing requirements for new drivers under 18 can help reduce teenage driver crash rates by requiring …

  • A given number of hours of driving supervised by an adult
  • Restrictions on driving at night and with peers in the vehicle
  • Phasing in exposure to more demanding driving conditions.

But this still is not enough. Research has shown that when graduated license policies are enforced, crash rates are still very high in the early months of independent driving. These requirements may help with vehicle management skills, but safe driving judgment comes only with experience. The risks during this time of inexperienced driving may be reduced if, after being licensed, the new driver is supervised by an adult while driving under various different circumstances.

Judgment issues not only include how to safely drive a vehicle, but what you should and shouldn’t do while driving a vehicle.

Those of the younger generation have grown up attached to smart phones, and some cannot function without being connected to others through the internet. This can cause huge safety problems when it’s time to drive, where distractions for a second or two can result in severe injuries or death.

Teen drivers have the highest rate of distraction-related fatal crashes of any age group, and vehicle manufacturers are adding more distractions.

  • There are in-vehicle information and entertainment systems.
  • Smartphones link with vehicles through the use of Bluetooth technologies.
  • Though using hands-free technologies to talk and text may appear safer than physically handling a smart phone, they’re just as distracting to the driver’s brain.

We’re stuck in a chicken-and-the-egg situation when it comes to having new, but safe, drivers. They shouldn’t drive unless they can do so safely, but they’re not equipped to drive safely without experience.

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a teen driver, contact Wapner Newman to set up a free consultation so we can discuss your situation, how Pennsylvania law may apply and how we can help protect your legal rights to compensation for your injuries.