With warmer weather having arrived and Maryland schools out for summer, more teens are on the road – a cause for concern and gray hairs for many a parent.
There’s reason to be worried. The American Automobile Association (AAA) recently dubbed the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers because the number of deadly teen motor vehicle accidents generally spikes upward by about 15 percent compared to the rest of the year.
In addition, auto accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2015, 2,333 teens in the United States ages 16 to 19 were killed – meaning that six teens died every day in auto accidents.
The CDC says the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16 to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
Injuries are just as prevalent. In 2014, 221,313 teens were treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes.
But, teen-involved auto accident crashes are preventable and strategies exist that can improve the safety of Maryland’s young drivers while on the road.
1. Buckle up. Of the teens aged 16-19 who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2014 approximately 53% were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Teens have the lowest rates of seat belt use compared to other age groups. In 2015, only 61% of high school students reported that they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else. Research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50%.
2. Don’t drink and drive. Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, 36% were speeding at the time of the crash and 24% had been drinking. In 2014, 17% of drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.
3. Obey the speed limit. Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, 36% were speeding at the time of the crash.
4. Be aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Distractions increase your teen’s risk of being in a crash. Talk to your teen about activities that may take his/her attention away from driving, such as talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, or playing with the radio.
5. Don’t tailgate. Following a vehicle too closely is called “tailgating.” One of the factors in many teen-involved accidents is that young drivers do not allow enough headway between the car they are driving and the one they are following. One rule of thumb is to allow one car length for every 10 miles of speed in good weather and to increase that distance in bad weather.
If you or a member of your family has been in an auto accident, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas Maronick Jr. have experience dealing with insurance companies and obtaining the highest possible recovery. We are available for a free consultation. Call us at 410.244.5068 or use our contact form.