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Teen Drivers Continue to Account for Highest Crash Risk

Steve Wagner


Car crashes remain the number one cause of death for U.S. teenagers. In fact, the National Safety Council says that nearly half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school. It is a parent’s job to help new teen drivers reduce the risk of being responsible for property damage accidents, personal injuries, and even death by staying involved as the teen grows into a more experienced driver. Research shows that when a parent continues to practice driving with their teen after they pass a drivers license test, they also help increase the chances of them avoiding a crash.


There is a certain amount of risk everyone faces when they choose to travel in a vehicle, but teen drivers crash more than any other age group. The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2014 that 2,270 U.S. teens, ages 16–19, were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Another 221,313 teens were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in crashes. The following messages from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles should help parents understand why being involved in their teen’s driving experience is needed.

  • Young Age: Teenagers make more errors in judgment than other age groups. Be aware that teens are likely to drive differently and take more risks when an adult is not in the vehicle.
  • Brain Development: Teens should be the world’s best drivers. Their muscles are well toned, their reaction time quick, their eye-hand coordination at a peak. Yet vehicle crashes kill more teens than any other cause — a problem, some researchers believe that is rooted in the adolescent brain.
  • Risky Driving Behaviors: Teenagers may engage in risky driving behaviors like speeding, running red and yellow lights, running stop signs, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, not keeping a safe distance for merging or changing lanes, misjudging gaps in traffic and misjudging the capability of their vehicles.
  • Distractions: Music, cell phones, pets, and passengers are best left at home while a teen is learning to drive. Not only does it increase the risk of a crash dramatically, it is against the law for any driver under the age of 21 to use a telecommunication device while driving unless making a 911 emergency call.
  • Driving Inexperience: Teenagers lack driving experience. Teens show the greatest improvement within the first year and 1,000 miles of driving. They continue to improve through their first 5,000 miles of driving.


A parent who schedules at least 30 minutes of driving practice time each week is helping their child reduce their accident risk. During each practice parents should be checking in, requesting their teen driver ask questions, and be honest in giving them useful driver feedback. It is also important that parents model good driving behavior like wearing a seat belt and obeying speed limits. Drivers at any age should not use any type of telecommunication device while operating a motor vehicle. Parents should spend some time learning what others are doing to help their teens drive. It can be very dangerous for a teen to be a passenger in a car driven by a new driver who has been given too many driving privileges too soon.

If your teen has been involved in an accident that resulted in their injury or death, Wagner Reese’s Indianapolis injury lawyers can assist you in recovering compensation for their injuries. Call us today at (888) 204-8440 for more information regarding vehicular accidents.


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