While it is not necessarily a surprise that more experienced drivers tend to have a lower risk of causing or being involved in a car accident, the statistics around teenaged driving accidents are shocking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that motor vehicle collisions are second most-common causes of teen death in the United States, and about half of all teenagers will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school.
If you were injured by a teenaged driver, or if you or your teen was involved in a collision with another motorist, Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. can help. We represent victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents, as well as the surviving loved ones of fatal crashes, throughout Florida. Our teenager car accident attorneys are here to provide the caring legal support you need as you navigate the process of filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim and/or taking action against the at-fault driver.
Why Is Teen Driving So Dangerous?
According to the CDC, nearly 2,400 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 died in motor vehicle accidents in 2019 (the latest year for which data are available). Additionally, about 258,000 teens required emergency medical care for accident-related injuries. The CDC also noted that males between the ages of 16 and 19 tend to be at the highest risk; in 2019, this demographic was two times more likely to die in an accident than female drivers in the same age range. Newly licensed teens, as well as those driving with passengers in their vehicles, were also at a higher risk of being involved in an accident.
So, what makes teen driving so dangerous?
There are many factors involved, but the most common is inexperience. Teenaged drivers are less likely to know how to react to changing traffic and roadway conditions, simply because they have less experience navigating these hazards. They may under- or overreact to dangerous situations on the road, leading to devastating or even fatal crashes.
Some of the other common factors involved in teenager driving accidents include:
- Distracted Driving: A 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 39% of U.S. high schoolers who drove—or about one in three—admitted to texting or emailing at least once during the 30-day period over which the survey was conducted. Although distracted driving is dangerous for any driver, it is especially risky for inexperienced motorists. Unfortunately, motorists under the age of 25 are also more likely to text or use cell phones while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They are also more likely to be involved in crashes when using cell phones behind the wheel. But cell phone use is not the only type of distraction that puts teen drivers at risk. Studies have found that the more passengers in the vehicle, the higher the risk of a teen driver being involved in an accident. Other distractions, such as eating or drinking and looking at signs or accidents along the roadway, can also play a significant role in a serious collision.
- Speeding: The CDC also reports that teenaged drivers are more likely to speed than older drivers, as well as allow less space between their vehicles and those ahead of them. As many as 30% of male drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 and 18% of female drivers in the same age group were speeding when involved in fatal crashes in 2018. At higher speeds, there is far less time for even the most experienced driver to react to roadway hazards and conditions. For inexperienced drivers, like teens, speeding can be especially deadly.
- Drunk Driving: According to the CDC, teen drivers are at a much higher risk of being involved in serious accidents after consuming alcohol than older motorists—even at the same or lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. Tragically, despite laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol or driving under the influence of alcohol for anyone under the age of 21, nearly one in four (24%) of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2018 had consumed alcohol prior to driving. Of these fatalities, 69% involved motorists who were not wearing seatbelts.
- Failure to Wear Seatbelts: Teenagers and young adults have the lowest comparative rates of seatbelt use in the U.S. Unfortunately, not wearing a seatbelt is one of the leading causes of serious injury and death in motor vehicle accidents. In cases where seatbelt use was known, nearly half of teenaged drivers and passengers between the ages of 16 and 19 who died in car crashes in 2019 were not wearing seatbelts.
While these represent some of the most common factors involved in teenager car accidents in the U.S., collisions with teen drivers can—and do—happen for a variety of reasons and in all types of circumstances. Sometimes, the teen driver is the one to blame. In other cases, the other motorist(s) or third parties involved are at fault. At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., we investigate every case to determine exactly what happened and, most importantly, who is liable.
Florida’s Teenage Licensing Laws
In response to statistics showing the dangers of teen driving, the state of Florida instated its Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. This program restricts when teenaged motorists can drive, as well as the number of passengers they may have in their vehicles and other factors, based on age.
In Florida, a 15-year-old can:
- Apply for a learner’s permit
- Only drive with a licensed driver over the age of 21 in the seat closest to the right of the driver
- Drive only during daylight hours for the first three months of having a permit
- Drive until 10:00 PM after three months with a driving permit
To graduate to the next level, the teen driver must complete 50 hours of driving practice, 10 of which should be completed at night, during the 12-month permit period. Additionally, the teen driver must have the permit for 12 months and cannot receive any convictions in order to advance.
At 16 and 17 years old, teens can apply for an operator’s license, but they may not:
- Drive between the hours of 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM at 16 without a licensed driver who is at least 21 unless they are traveling to or from work
- Drive between the hours of 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM at 17 without a licensed driver who is at least 21 unless they are traveling to or from work
Once a driver turns 18, they do not have any further restrictions on when they may operate a motor vehicle, save for state and federal laws that apply to all licensed drivers.
Contact Us Today
With multiple offices throughout the state, Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. is proud to represent injured Floridians in complex personal injury and wrongful death cases. Because we limit the number of cases we accept, we are able to provide each of our clients with the care, attention, and service they deserve. As a client of the firm, you will receive direct communication from your attorney, and our team will always be available and accessible to you.
We provide free initial consultations and do not collect any legal fees unless we recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf. Your time to file a car accident lawsuit in Florida is limited so don’t wait until it’s too late to reach out to our teen driving accident attorneys to learn how we can help.
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