West Virginia Traffic Accidents – Teens at High Risk

Apr 2013

Recently, CNN.com shared several tragic stories about car accidents involving teenage drivers. In one such story, for example, CNN indicated that an Ohio SUV went off the road and into a pond. The SUV — which had room for five passengers — had eight teenagers in it. Six of them died.

Tragically, as our West Virginia accident lawyers know, car accidents are the top cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 20.  The Governors Highway Safety Association preliminary data for 2012 also indicates that the number of car accident deaths among young people is increasing, with 19 percent more 16- and 17-year-old drivers killed than the year before. The high number of deaths and the serious dangers faced by teen drivers cannot be ignored, and parents should make a point to sit down with their kids and talk about safe driving.

Teens are at Risk

It is important for parents and kids to be aware of some of the troubling facts about teen drivers. For example, as CNN reported:

  • There were 2,700 people between the ages of 16 and 19 killed in car accidents in 2010.
  • More than seven teenagers died every day in America in 2010 in car accidents.
  • There were 282,000 teen drivers ages 16 to 19 who suffered injury in car crashes in the U.S. in 2010.
  • Only 54 percent of high-school students indicated in a 2011 survey that they always wear seat belts. Every other age group had a higher percentage.
  • Teens with passengers in their car are more likely to be involved in crashes.

Teens are also more likely than their parents realize to text when they drive, with Car Connection reporting that 26 percent responding to a University of Michigan Transportation Survey admitting they sent or received texts as they drove at least once every time.  Other studies have shown that teenage drivers are more likely to speed and less likely than adults to stop when they are feeling too tired to drive safely.

Talking to Your Teen

While car accidents are a leading cause of teen death, the good news is that many of them are preventable. Teens just have to be smart behind the wheel and make good choices and they will have a significantly reduced chance of hurting themselves or others.

It is up to parents to make sure that children understand the importance of safe driving. You can go over some of the statistics on car accident deaths with them to drive home the point, but you should also make some clear rules and have an open discussion about them.

For example, you can discuss the rules for riding with friends or passengers in the car; driving at night; drinking and driving; texting or using cell phones; and speeding.  Parents should also model their own good behavior, as the University of Michigan Transportation study indicated that children often mimic the driving habits of their parents.

By taking the time to talk to your teenager and by setting a good example, you can hopefully help to ensure your teen is a smart and careful driver. If you aren’t confident of this, then there are devices that you can use, including in-car cameras, to monitor what your child is doing as he or she drives. While your kids may not be thrilled about the idea, taking firm action could help to save their lives or the lives of innocent victims sharing the road.

If you’ve been in an auto accident in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia, contact the personal injury attorneys at Recht Law Office. Call us today at 1-800-HURTLINE.

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