AAA & GHSA: Teen Driver Fatalities Surged Last Year

Teen driver deaths, fueled largely by speeding and distraction, were up 10 percent last year, according to two recently released studies. teens

While the number of teen driving-related deaths has been slashed by nearly half, from 8,250 in 2005 to 4,270 in 2014, last year saw one of the first increases in a decade. In the last five years, according to the AAA auto club, there were 14,000 fatal crashes involving teens. Nearly 33 percent of those involved drivers who were speeding. Also, according to the newest figures released from the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of motorists killed in teen driver crashes increased from 4,272 in 2014 to 4,689 last year. These accidents all involve teen drivers, but the deaths include passengers, persons in other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. In fact, more than two-thirds of those killed in teen driver crashes were someone other than the teen driver.

Teens are among the most vulnerable drivers on the road. They lack experience. They often lack an understanding of the serious danger they face – and the great caution they must exercise.

Just recently in Rock Hill, a 17-year-old recent graduate of York Preparatory Academy was killed in a single-car crash on Mobley Store Road at around 4:30 p.m. For reasons that are unclear, according to Herald Online, the teen’s vehicle went off the right side of the road, struck a ditch, overturned, and then slammed into a tree. He’d been wearing a seat belt. There were no passengers and no other vehicles involved.

Teens are 1.6 times more likely to die in a fatal auto accident than adults.

Many states – including North Carolina and South Carolina – have graduated driver’s license programs that have several phases before one attains full driving privileges. These programs have been shown to drive down teen driving accidents by nearly a third. But there is one snag officials haven’t yet figured out how to address. Approximately one in three teens don’t get their license until they turn 18. There is still a high likelihood of their involvement in a crash due to their inexperience, but the graduated driver’s licensing laws don’t include 18- and 19-year-olds.

The risk of motorists killed in traffic accidents falls steadily the older the driver. What policy makers seem to fail to understand is that an 18-year-old isn’t necessarily more mentally mature than a 17-year-old. That maturity is essential for safe driving habits.

Our Rock Hill car accident lawyers know there is a wide consensus among driving instructors of the primary causes of these crashes. Those include:

  • Speeding;
  • Distractions (mostly by talking on a cell phone or with other young passengers); and
  • Poor scanning of the road.

In an effort to lower the potential risk, AAA recommends teens practice driving for at least 50 hours. The agency also supports measures that limit the number of non-family member passengers to just one, for at least the first six months after a young driver obtains a license. Banning wireless devices in vehicles is also necessary.

Of course, it doesn’t help that so many adults set a poor example. We know that nearly 80 percent of drivers between the ages of 35 and 55 talk on their smartphones while they’re driving. That’s 20 percent higher than the number of teens. And almost half of adults admit to speeding at least 15 mph over the limit on the highway.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Fatalities in teen crashes spike after steady decline, studies find, Oct. 12, 2016, By Bart Jansen, USA Today

More Blog Entries:

Martin v. Powers – Rental Cars Can be Uninsured Vehicles per Certain Liability Contracts, Nov. 4, 2016, Teen Driver Injury Lawyer Blog

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