The recent death of a high-school student in an apparent prank-gone-wrong car crash is a reminder of the dangers young drivers pose on the road. In this accident, six students were riding in a Nissan Xterra allegedly shooting vehicles in a northwest Houston neighborhood with air-soft pellets when the driver ran a stop sign and hit another vehicle. The occupants of the other vehicle were not injured, but a teenage Xterra passenger was thrown from the vehicle and later died from his injuries.
As this tragic accident illustrates, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for young drivers in the United States. About 5,000 young drivers are killed every year in the U.S., and thousands more are injured. The crash rate per mile is four times greater for teen drivers than for older drivers. New drivers are at the greatest risk of being involved in an accident; the crash rate for 16 year olds is twice what it is for 18 to 19 year olds. In fact, the first month during which a teen has his or her license is the deadliest.
Teen driver risk factors
Teen drivers are more prone to auto accidents for two main reasons:
- Teen drivers practice immature, risky behaviors like speeding, tailgating, and distracted driving more often than other drivers
- Teens lack the experience necessary to properly recognize and react to hazards on the road
Fatal crashes that involve young drivers are usually single-vehicle accidents, typically caused by driver error and / or excessive speed. Fatal crashes also tend to happen when teens are riding with their friends, putting teen passengers at greater risk for death and injury as well. Teen drivers are also much more likely to be involved in a serious crash if they have been drinking. Despite all states having a drinking age of 21 and a zero BAC threshold for teen drivers, driving under the influence of alcohol is still an issue for teen drivers.
Ways to curb teen car accident deaths
A number of policy solutions to address the high accident rate among teen drivers have been suggested. These include:
- License restrictions: restrict teen drivers from driving at night and from carrying a certain number of passengers.
- Graduated licensing: states like Texas have graduated licensing programs, where restrictions on teen drivers become less as they gain experience behind the wheel
- Higher license age: raise the age for initial licensure so young drivers are a little more mature before they get behind the wheel
To get help with your Texas car accident injury case, please contact the Houston law offices of VB Attorneys today.