Posted on February 14th, 2014 by Zane Cagle
Some Modern Day Teen Driving Facts:
- A teenager is killed in an auto accident every 64 and 1/2 minutes (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: NHTSA)
- A teenager is injured in an auto accident every 55 seconds (NHTSA)
- Teenagers make up 7% of licensed drivers, but suffer 14% of the fatalities and 20% of all reported accidents
- The driver fatality rate for 16 year-olds is 9 times the rate for drivers 30-60 years of age
- Eighty-five percent of crashes by 16 year-old drivers are attributed to “Driver Error”, No speed, not drugs, not alcohol
- There are approximately 13,000,000 drivers between 16 and 20 year old today (US Census Bureau) That number is expected to grow to over 16,000,000 in just 10 years
- The cost of police-reported crashes involving teen drivers in 2002 was $40,800,000,000 ($40.8 Billion) (NHTSA)
- There is no in-car driver training in the high school systems in 25 states. There is no driver education at all in another 7 states
- In the overwhelming majority of states, a driver’s license to a 16 year-old with no official ever having seen the teenager drive a car on the road
- The average 16-year old soccer player has had 1,500 hours of coached soccer practice, but only 50 hours of driving experience is required in most state for a driver’s license
The Changing Face of Driver-Education:
Without disclosing my date of birth or my age, I will say, I went to high school when we still had an actual class called Drivers Education. Everyone looked forward to that hour since you actually got to get behind the wheel with an instructor and two of your buddies in the back and “drive around”. For years, high schools across the United States had driver’s education classes that student would take either their sophomore or junior year depending on their age. I remember studying hard for the “written exam” at the licensing office and being so excited that I scored a 100! I felt even better and more confident when I aced the driving portion of the test. As a teenager growing up on a farm, I drove a lot around the farm rather than on state or local highways and roads. Admittedly, when I was a youngster, my dad would let me drive on back roads as he always thought the way to learn something was to do it. So, by the time I got ready to get my actual driver’s license, I had logged 100’s of hours of actual driving experience through school and time with my dad on the farm. If you visit Dmv.org/mo-missouri/drivers-ed, you will see the regulations and licensing procedures for first time drivers.
However, teenagers today do not take a regular course of Driver’s Education as part of a semester in public school. I would imagine that limiting financial resources and changing legislation about driver’s permits have been factors that have taken the driver’s education courses out of the regular school curriculum that many of today’s adults enjoyed. Now parents or teenagers must come up with the funding to pay for their own driver’s education fees and take the course in the summer or after school hours. While many teens are involved in sports, extra and co-curricular activities and part time jobs, fitting a driver’s education course in is sometimes challenging.
On the day I turned 16, I remember my dad taking me to the Department of Motor Vehicles, where he left me to take my driver’s test while he walked down the street to the coffee shop…his parting words were, “Pick me up at the coffee shop when you are done” This statement made two assumptions: I would pass and that there was only one coffee shop in town. As it happened, both assumptions were correct as it was a little town. Like my friend’s parents, he had watched me pour myself into studying the Missouri Driver’s manual memorizing all of the road signs, road marks, stopping distance, etc and he knew that I would remember it since driving was something I desperately wanted to do as it marked an era of teenage independence. As well, he had been in the passenger seat beside me when I logged all of those driving hours and he knew my driving skill and felt comfortable with my skills. Unfortunately, when I think about where I live now and my little girl becoming a driver, it causes me to catch my breath! As a personal injury attorney, I see the many victims of serious car accidents and when I think about my child one day being a teenage driver, well it shakes me up a bit. (As does the very thought of her being a teenager!)
While I still have a few years to sweat out my daughter becoming a teenager, when the time comes, I will want to teach her how to drive safely. Yes, I will enroll her in some formal driver’s education depending on what is out there in a decade, but I will also want to teach her myself so that I can observe whether or not she does have good driving skills before I allow her to get her driver’s license and unleash her on the roads of St. Louis. Traffic in metropolitan areas can test the best of driving skills. Unlike the dirt roads of my youth and the slow pace at which I had to drive to keep from tearing the bottom out of the car, driving in St. Louis involves higher speeds, a multitude of cars, merging traffic and distracted driving. I will hold out some hope that new technology will continue to work to make driving safer, especially since she has a little brother who will be antsy to learn to drive a mere two years after her!
Teenagers driving is distressing for parents. Parents can remind their teen drivers to not text and drive, to not overload the car, to not show off and to pay attention but in reality, teenagers are teenagers. You hope that you have taught them well and pay close attention to the level of responsibility they take in all of their endeavors. Some teens are just not responsible to drive, meaning they are not mature enough to make the responsible choices to be safe. Whether a teen or an adult, we all have to make responsible decisions when it comes to driving such as paying attention, obeying road law and signs and not speeding.
Car Accidents Involving Teens
Just because a teenager is involved in an auto accident, no one can assume the crash was naturally his or her fault simply because they are a teen. In collisions that involve two or more cars, the age of the drivers may or may not matter depending on the type of accident it is and the circumstances involved. Statistics may indicate that teen drivers are more prone to driver error, but again, every accident is unique and if you have been involved in an accident and are a teen but did not cause the accident, you may need legal representation. Some of the factors determining whether you need an attorney include one, you were injured; two, the accident was not your fault (keep in mind that in Missouri, the officers who work the accident do not determine liability) or three, the other driver claims the accident is your fault. Under any of these circumstances, you may need a personal injury attorney. We represent all ages of car accident victims and they range from drivers to infants and the elderly as passengers. If you have been injured in a car accident, the chances are good that you should at least consult an attorney to be sure that you do Not need representation. It is always easier to ask questions first before putting too much time between yourself and the accident. Our attorneys are available seven days a week for free consultations (314) 276-1681 or locally (314) 276-1681
Source: The Awful Facts. The New Driver Car Control Clinic. 2/12/14