Teenage drivers are more prone than the average adult driver to get involved in an accident. According to a recent survey by American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, a teenage driver’s risk of death due to an accident may increase by around 44 percent for ever mile they drove when they had a less-than-21-years-old passenger, rather than driving alone. The risk doubles if the teenage driver carries two less-than-21-years-old passengers, and quadruples if the driver carries more than three passengers aging less than 21.
The study goes to show that teenage drivers are exposed to higherrisk of deaths due to an accident when they are accompanied by other teenagers in the car, while the risk of death decreases dramatically when they carry adult passengers. With only one passenger aged 35 years or more in the car, a teenage driver’s risk of death due to accident decreases by 62 percent, says the AAA study.
“Just because states have graduated licensing laws doesn't means everyone is obeying them,” said a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, Jonathan Adkins. “Graduated licensing laws are really good, but we rely on the parents to be the ones enforcing them,” Adkins added.
However, results of the previous studies on this issue were a little misleading, because none of them was conducted after the changes in driving laws took effect during the mid-1990s. Under the revised laws, teenagers are not allowed to drive with less-than-21-years-old passengers, while in some states, only one young passenger is allowed.
The AAA study was conducted during the period between 2007 and 2010, meaning that the study reflects the latest changes in state driving laws. The study was conducted analyzing government statistics on accidents involving teenagers during that period. Under Graduated Driver Licensing laws, most of the states in the US now have restrictions on nighttime driving and do not allow more than one less-than-21-years-old passenger in the car. Unfortunately, however, it is not easy to enforce these laws.
The period between 2000 and 2010 saw around 50 percent decrease in the number of teenage drivers involved in fatal accidents every year, thanks to the enforcement of graduated licensing laws and safe driving campaigns that helped raise awareness about the importance of using safety equipment, such as, seat belts in the car.
Regulations and campaigns did a wonderful job, but the job is still not over. According to the study, around 40 percent of the teenage drivers who lost their lives in an accident during that period had at least one less-than-21-years-old passenger and no adults in their car.
One practical problem with enforcing the laws is that police officers find it difficult to identify teenage drivers and passengers only based on their look, clarified Adkins. Interestingly, a large percentage of teenage deaths due to accident occur during the summer season. In fact, summer months account for around 422 teenager deaths per month due to fatal accidents, compared to 363 deaths during the non-summer months.
If you were injured in a Missouri auto accident caused by a negligent teen, get in touch with an experienced attorney at The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We can evaluate your claim for free and help you determine what you are entitled to under Missouri law.