Virginia's top-rated personal injury law firm Kalfus & Nachman is regarded as one of the community's most active and vocal public safety advocates. It has once again partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 17th- 23rd), in its annual effort to encourage greater safety awareness and educate parents and young drivers on rules for the road.
For over a decade, our knowledgeable Attorney Paul R. Hernandez, a Virginia native, has spoken to thousands of students in our area's high schools, guiding them about the risk factors and urging them to adopt safe driving habits.
Common Driving Risk Factors For Teen Drivers
Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of teen fatalities in the United States. According to the NHTSA 2019 report, over 258,000 teenagers aged 13 to 19 were treated in the emergency department for injuries, and nearly 2,400 lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes. Here are some of the most serious risks teens face behind the wheel:
Speeding: Speeding is a major safety concern for teen drivers. They are more likely to exhibit speeding behavior as they gain confidence. Teen drivers are often prone to tailgating, and speeding makes it more difficult to stop the vehicle quickly in such a scenario.
Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is extremely dangerous for young, inexperienced drivers. Talking or texting on the cell phone diverts teens' focus away from the task of driving, limiting their ability to react to a traffic hazard. Other distraction risks for teens include applying makeup, eating breakfast, drinking coffee, adjusting a radio, or distractions from other passengers.
Not Using Seat Belts: Adolescents are not skilled at making wise choices when it comes to teen driver safety. They generally lack the habit of using seatbelts and have the lowest rates of seat belt use when compared with other age groups. In 2019, 45% of teen drivers who died were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
Impaired Driving: Alcohol and drugs impair driving ability by affecting attention, reaction time, decision-making skills, judgment, motor skills, balance, and coordination. Even though underage drinking and drug use are illegal in Virginia, it is a serious problem among teenagers. And teens are more likely than anyone else to be injured in an impaired driving crash.
Passengers: When driving with one teenager passenger, teens are likely to engage in one or more potentially unsafe actions than when driving alone. And the possibility of teen drivers engaging in dangerous behavior triples when there are other teen passengers.
10 Teen Motor Vehicle Crash Facts & Stats 2019
- 78% of teen crash fatalities in 2019 were passenger vehicle occupants.
- Male teen drivers had two times higher fatality rate than female teen drivers.
- 40% of fatal teen vehicle crashes occurred during nighttime ( 9 pm - 6 am) and 52% on weekends (Fri -Sun).
- In fatal crashes involving teen drivers, 31 % of male teen drivers and 17% of female teen drivers were speeding.
- 24% of drivers aged 15–20 who died in fatal car accidents were found to have consumed alcohol.
- 16% of teens drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.
- Nearly 43% of US high school students did not always buckle up when traveling in a car driven by someone else.
- Dialing a phone number and texting while driving increases a teen's risk of crashing by 6 and 23 times, respectively.
- When the teen driver involved in the fatal collision was unrestrained, 90% of the passengers who died were also not wearing seat belts.
- In Virginia, the DMV reported 17,600 accidents involving teen drivers (ages 15 to 19) in 2019, with over 9,200 injuries and 65 fatalities.
Parents Set Teen Driver Safety Rules
Parents never want to see their teen driver be seriously injured or cause harm to others and have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives. Parents have a significant influence on the life of a teen driver. They can influence teenagers by providing a positive example while their children are growing up. Teens grow up watching their parents, and it is necessary to set an example as they imitate the same behaviors. Be a good role model for your teen driver and set an example by obeying traffic rules with your safe and defensive driving habits.
As parents, it's our responsibility to take the time out and have safe driving discussions with our kids. We can't assume they know how to drive or know what the dangers are. And it's not a one-time deal; we need to constantly remind the kids about teen driver safety tips and the following six rules for the road:
- No cell phones while driving
- No passengers
- No speeding
- No alcohol
- No drowsy driving
- Always buckle up
Virginia's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system allows teen drivers to get driving experience safely before gaining full driving rights. Explaining GDL rules and restrictions, as well as the potentially fatal consequences of unsafe driving habits, can effectively encourage teenagers to display safe driving behaviors.
Teen Driving Safety Tips For Teens
Some valuable behind-the-wheel tips for teens to stay safe and keep their friends safe.
- Do not drive recklessly. Follow all traffic signals and stop signs.
- Always obey the speed limit. Don't put your life in danger merely for the excitement of exceeding the speed limit.
- Keep your focus on the road. Do not get distracted by your phone or any other gadgets while you are driving.
- Stay alert and look out for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other vehicles on the road.
- Do not drive if you are fatigued, irritated, or agitated.
- Always stay sober behind the wheel. It is illegal for teens to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Never get in the car with a drunk or drug-impaired driver.
What to do if my teenager is involved in a car crash in Virginia?
Kalfus & Nachman help injured drivers every day and the most devastating is when a young life is shattered. If your teen gets involved in an accident in Virginia, you should get to the accident scene quickly to comfort your teen. Nothing is important than the well-being of your child. Our skilled attorneys are committed to help you in protecting your teenager’s legal rights. Call us for a free consultation today: 855-880-8163