According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading killer of American teens. Car crashes make up 44 percent of teen deaths in the U.S., and teen drivers are three times more likely than other drivers to be a part of a fatal crash.
Causes of teen auto accidents
There are many reasons teen drivers are more likely than other drivers to be in car accidents. One of those reasons is texting while driving. According to a survey by AT&T, 97 percent of teens reported that they knew texting while driving was dangerous, but 43 percent of them conceded to doing it anyway.
Another reason for teen car accidents is drinking while driving. A report by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm insurance found that 4 out of 10 teen drivers who perished in auto accidents had blood-alcohol levels of at least .01 percent. Other factors contributing to teen fatalities in car accidents include not wearing seat belts and speeding. Yet, the main cause is a lack of experience and maturity.
New Jersey’s safety efforts
In response to this epidemic of car crash fatalities among teens, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety in partnership with Kean University has launched a campaign entitled “Share the Keys,” which educates teens and parents together about safety issues for teen drivers. The program ran in conjunction with the nationwide Teen Driver Safety Week in October.
Research by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has demonstrated that parents who are authoritative and involved in the driving activities of their teenagers have a significant impact on the safety of teen drivers. “Share the Keys” seeks to capitalize on that research by providing a joint orientation about teen driving issues for parents and their teenagers.
The program is 90 minutes long and is presented in various community settings such as libraries and schools. Educators can also couple the program with classroom-based driver education courses. “Share the Keys” has five main goals:
- Making sure that teens and parents understand the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) system in New Jersey: The GDL system has proven to be the most successful tool in combating crashes among teen drivers.
- Stressing the importance of parents as good role models for teen drivers: Studies have shown that teens imitate their parents’ driving habits, and parents must be aware of their own unsafe practices such as speeding and distracted driving.
- Enforcing the GDL system at home: Parts of the GDL system are restrictions on nighttime driving and a limit on the number of passengers in the car with a teen driver. Since 40 percent of fatal accidents among teen drivers happen after 9 p.m. and teen drivers with even just one passenger are twice as likely to be involved in a crash, it is paramount that parents enforce those restrictions.
- Increasing the number of hours spent on driving practice: Crash risk decreases with driving practice, and, therefore, it is important for parents to make time to spend at least one hour a week helping their teen practice driving.
- Controlling access to the keys: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that teens who had to ask for permission to use a car were half as likely to be in an accident when compared with those that had access to a car whenever they wanted.
Talk to a lawyer
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with a teen driver, it is advisable to seek out a knowledgeable New Jersey personal injury attorney.
An attorney can help you determine whether the teen driver or his or her parents is the correct party to file a claim against. An attorney can also help you interact successfully with the responding insurance company to get all the potential damages you may be entitled to such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income and property damage.