Causes of Teen Driving Accidents

September 13, 2018 Published by

Summer is almost over, and most of us hope temperatures will be falling soon. But one thing’s for sure, school is back in session, and that means more new drivers on the road. GPS and teen trackers can help you and your teenage children improve driver safety and stay alive behind the wheel.

As a parent, if your son or daughter has recently gotten their driver’s license, or even if they’ve been driving for a year or more, it’s understandable why you worry about their safety. Rather than locking up your car keys and refusing to allow your children to drive until they’re 30, you can use the list and install a teen tracking GPS system in the vehicle your teenager uses to help them develop safe driving habits to last a lifetime.

According to the latest data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHSHLDI) the fatal crash rate for those between the ages of 16 and 19 is 3 times that of the rate for drivers over 20, and the fatal crash rate for 16- to 17-year-olds is twice the rate for 18- to 19-year-olds. Furthermore, the leading cause of death among teenagers in the US is motor vehicle accidents. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly releases data on teen drivers and has come up with 8 different areas of concern, or danger zones.

For most teenagers, getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage. A driver’s license confers the ability to move independently to and from home, school, work, and fun events. Tragically, inexperience, immaturity, and thrill seeking put newly licensed teenage drivers, their passengers, and others at risk.

In wealthy countries around the world, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injuries for teens aged 15 to 19. In the United States, teens aged 15 to 19 have the highest number of motor vehicle accidents of all age groups, greater than motor vehicle deaths and injuries among drivers over the age of 85.

Most 8- to 17-year-old children who die in car crashes are killed as passengers of a teenage driver. The motor vehicle fatality rate for 16- to 19-year-old drivers is three times the rate for drivers over 20, and the car crash death rate is twice as high for 16- and 17-year-old drivers as it is for 18- and 19-year-old drivers. The leading cause of death among teenagers in the US is motor vehicle accidents. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly releases data on teen drivers and has come up with 8 different areas of concern, or danger zones.

1. Teen drivers lack experience.

This first area should be obvious. Any skill takes time to master, and driving is no exception. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) also cite lack of experience as a factor in motor vehicle crashes and teen drivers and includes issues related to lack of skills in things like the ability to recognize dangers and then react when something they don’t expect happens. Teenagers also lack knowledge of all traffic laws and regulations as well as of all the risks involved with driving a vehicle.

Besides allowing your teenage son or daughter plenty of time for supervised practice before getting their license, installing a teen tracking GPS device on their car can help track their driving habits including things like speed, braking patterns, and other areas of concern. Instead of getting angry with your child, use the reports to go over any problems and create a plan for improving their driving. AAA, the CDC and insurance company Geico provide free templates for creating a parent-teen driving agreement that you can customize to include goals for improving driving. In addition to these, you might consider enrolling your child in a private defensive driving course to give them more specialized and targeted instruction and practice.

2. Teen drivers often drive with other teenagers in the car.

Something we didn’t mention in the first point is the Graduated Driver Licensing System. All 50 states have a GDL system in place of some kind. To find out what exists in your state go to this link. Besides helping to ensure that teen drivers gain more practice and experience before becoming fully licensed drivers, a GDL system also helps tackle the problem of reduced driving safety from driving with other teenagers in the car.

While you might not immediately think that allowing your teenager to drive with a friend or two in the car is a factor for increased danger, research has shown that the risk of a fatal crash rises significantly when an unsupervised teen driver has other teens as passengers. The accident risk increases with the increase in the number of teen passengers.

While teen tracking can’t tell you how many passengers are in a car when your child is driving, it can display where they’re going. For example, if they make multiple stops that you know are their friends’ houses, then you probably can tell if they’re allowing friends in the car. In addition, teen tracking can also monitor things like speeding, and other reckless driving habits that some experts hypothesize are more likely to occur when a teen driver has teens riding in the car. In addition to teen tracking, there are dash cameras that will record video so you can see if your child is allowing other teens to ride in the car.

Insurance adjusters from AAA tell us:
“One of the biggest distractions for teen drivers is driving with friends in the passenger seat or, even worse, driving with still more friends in the back seat.

Having a driver’s license confers autonomy from parents. Teens see this as a way to increase their social standing. They make driving a social event.
Scientific studies find that having teen passengers increases the crash rate for teen drivers, and increases the probability that the crash will be the fault of the teen drier. The risk of a 16- or17-year-old’s death in a car crash doubles when there are two passengers in the car under the age of 21. A study by AAA found that the risk of dying in a car crash quadruples when the car carries three or more passengers.

This risk is unique to teens. Having multiple passengers does not increase the risk of injuries or deaths from car crashes in drivers over 21. Teenagers are uniquely concerned about seeming bold to their peers, and not wanting to seem too cautious to other teens.”

3. Teen drivers need practice driving at night.

When you’re teaching your child to drive, and when they’re in a Driver’s Education program after school, they’re probably getting practical experience during daylight hours. When I was learning to drive, my parents would take me to a vacant parking lot or a housing development that was under construction to practice on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The first time I ever drove alone after dark was after I already had my full license and it was a very different experience. Plus it was raining.

These days with GDL systems in place, many states require a certain number of hours of supervised practice driving at night, and every state except Vermont prohibits unsupervised driving during certain hours after dark for drivers who have a provisional license. However, there are still states that require no night hours before graduating to a supervised license or even a full license. A teen tracking system that allows you to prevent the vehicle from being started during certain hours or that will enable you to see where and when the car was driven can help keep your teen safe or prevent them from driving at night.

4. Teen drivers don’t always wear seatbelts.

According to the CDC, teenagers have the worst record when it comes to wearing seatbelts. Just 61% of teens report they always wear a seatbelt when they’re in a car with someone else. The majority of teens killed in a motor vehicle crash were not wearing a seatbelt. Other research on seat belts from the CDC found that seat belts reduce the risk of dying by 45% and cut injury risk by as much as 50%.

You can’t be with your teenager 24/7, but you can require them to wear a seat belt and revoke driving privileges when they don’t. In addition, set an example by always buckling up yourself. GPS and teen tracking won’t tell you if they used their seat belt, but you can still teach your kids by your example. Again, a dash camera can help you monitor whether or not your teenager is complying with seat belt laws and your driving safety agreement.

5. Teen drivers are often distracted drivers.

These days teens have more distractions than ever. Besides being less skilled and having less experience anticipating and responding to potential road hazards, your teen driver probably has their own smartphone. In 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation Study, Generation M²: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, found that children spend close to 8 hours a day on media, and teens spend an average of about 11 hours a day on media content, often multi-tasking between 2 or more screens. For example, your son or daughter might watch television while scrolling through their Snapchat or another social media feed.

If you think your child isn’t texting or looking at a screen while driving, you could be wrong, and that could be fatal. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that the problem of distracted teen driving is actually worse than they initially thought. As illustrated in their infographic, 60% of teen motor vehicle accidents involve driver distraction. 12% of them involved using a cell phone, 10% involved looking at something in the vehicle, and 15% involved interacting with teen passengers. Teen tracking can monitor driving habits and safety, and dash cameras can record activity, including whether or not your teen is violating your rules about driving and cell phone activity.

6. Teen drivers drive while sleepy.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has a website devoted to educating parents and schools on sleep and children. Teenagers need more sleep than adults, but most teens and even their parents don’t know how many hours of sleep teenagers require. Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, but teens need about 10 hours of sleep a night. The problem is that most high schools start early in the morning, often between 7 and 7:45 am due to busing schedules. Add homework load, screen time on electronic devices, and extracurricular activities, as well as after-school employment, and today’s teens average just 5 to 6 hours of sleep on most school nights. Plus teens are biologically wired to fall asleep later at night and find it harder to fall asleep before 10 or 11 pm.

This chronic sleep deprivation means teens are driving drowsy, especially early in the morning and at night. A 2010 study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine on sleep and teen driving found that teens were 2 times more likely to be involved in a vehicle crash if they were sleep deprived or drowsy while driving. As a parent, you can help your teen manage their schedule and make sure getting enough sleep is a priority, even if they must cut back on some activities, including eliminating screen time at night. If getting enough sleep is impossible, consider not allowing your child to drive to school or between certain hours, even if their driver’s license allows them to drive late at night.

7. Teen drivers sometimes drive recklessly.

Although your child might be a junior or senior in high school and taking classes for college credit, they are still children. No matter how mature your teen might seem, their brains are still developing, specifically the parts of the brain involved in judgment, impulse control, and emotional regulation. As a result, teens are more likely to use their emotions rather than logic and reason to make driving decisions and react to situations on the road.
Your teen will take more risks to impress their friends when driving, especially if they’re male or if there are boys in the car while they’re driving. The parts of the brain that help control your teen’s impulses haven’t fully developed yet, so if they’re offered a drink or presented with a dare to go through that red light or race another car, they probably will. More important is the fact that the frontal lobe, the section that allows us to use reason and judgment, develops last. That means, your teen driver might not even think that speeding or texting while driving is dangerous, no matter what you tell them. AAA has a helpful infographic on teens and driving including more on the developing teen brain on this site on teen driving.

Again, your safe driving agreement and GPS teen tracking can help you monitor whether your child is driving safely and developing good habits. Things like speeding, hard braking, rapid acceleration, lane correction, and other factors can be seen and discussed with your teenager so you can work on being a better driver together. Remember, driving safely yourself sets a good foundation for their driving habits as well.

8. Teen drivers might be driving drunk.

When I was in high school and even just before my first year of college, I was the one in my group of friends with the car. That meant I was the driver, but that didn’t mean I didn’t drink or refused to drive impaired. That was before 1991 when teens and drunk driving were at an all-time high. The good news is that teenage drinking and driving has gone down by 54% since then. However, according to the CDC, high school aged teens still drink and drive about 2.4 million times a month, and 85% of those teen drunk drivers say they engaged in binge drinking, meaning they drank more than 5 drinks in a 2 hour period. 81% of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash had blood alcohol concentrations higher than the legal limit for adults.

Teen tracking doesn’t monitor drinking. But as we’ve mentioned, it can track if your child is driving erratically, or speeding. You can see if your child has stopped, is idling, and where they are if the vehicle is as well. You’re also able to see if any accidents have occurred. And as with all the other danger zones identified by the CDC, don’t drink and drive yourself either. Your driving habits greatly influence those of your teen.

As a parent, there are things you can do help prevent teen driver accidents.
With all the sobering statistics about teens and driving, your instinct as a parent might be not to allow your child to learn to drive until they are an adult. Although there has been some research on the effects of raising the driving age to 18, there’s no evidence that waiting far into adulthood is the answer.

The following solutions can help keep your child safe and help prevent teen driver accidents:

    • Display good driving habits yourself.
    • Talk openly with your children about driving hazards and driving safely.
    • Set up house driving rules in addition to the minimum standards set by your state.
    • Compose and sign a written driving agreement with your teen.
    • Install safety equipment like a dash cam and GPS teen tracking system in your teen’s vehicle.

Passive GPS tracking is a great way to keep tabs on your teenagers. It will only tell you where they have been, but it can help you check up on your teen to make sure they are staying away from places and activities that cause them trouble

Active GPS tracking is a tool for finding out where your teen is right this very minute. There are some teens and some situations for which active GPS tracking is the better choice.

Have questions about teen driver safety and teen tracking?

If you need more information on teen driver safety and how using GPS teen tracking can help your teen develop better driving habits, leave them in the comments below or contact GPS Technologies today.

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This post was written by Malcolm Rosenfeld

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