Motor vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. Studies show that teens have a higher risk of being involved in a car accident than any other age group. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are about three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than drivers ages 20 and older.
Several factors contribute to teens having a higher crash risk than other age groups, such as underestimating or failing to recognize dangerous situations and being more likely to speed or to follow too closely. And certain factors — being male, driving with passengers, driving under the influence of alcohol and being newly licensed — can increase a teen’s crash risk even more:
- In 2010, male drivers and passengers between the ages of 16 and 19 died in car accidents at nearly twice the rate as their female counterparts
- When teens drive with other teens in the vehicle without adult supervision, their crash risk goes up — the more teen passengers, the greater the risk
- At all levels of blood alcohol concentration, teen drivers have a higher crash risk than older drivers
- Teens’ crash risk is highest during the first few months after becoming licensed
To help keep teens safe as they gain real-world driving experience, many states have implemented graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs. While GDL laws vary from state to state, most programs involve some combination of the following:
- Minimum permit age
- Minimum permit duration
- Minimum license age
- Supervised driving hours
- Passenger restrictions
- Nighttime driving restrictions
Last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute jointly released an online calculator that estimates the safety gains each state could achieve by improving its GDL laws. In New Jersey, for example, which does not require supervised driving, the calculator shows that requiring 30 hours of supervised driving could reduce fatal crashes by 2 percent and collision claims by 8 percent, while requiring 65 hours could reduce fatal crashes by 4 percent and collision claims by 16 percent. According to the two agencies, “if every state adopted all five components of the toughest young driver licensing laws in the nation, more than 500 lives could be saved and more than 9,500 collisions could be prevented each year.”
GDL programs not only protect teen drivers, but also everyone else on the road. Unfortunately, as successful as GDL laws have been at reducing the rate of teen crashes, no law can prevent all accidents. If you or your loved one has sustained serious injuries in a car accident, contact an experienced Atlantic City injury attorney today. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and an Atlantic City injury lawyer can help you fight to get it.