Teen drivers hit the roads with very little experience. Putting in hours with a parent or an instructor is simply not the same as driving on their own. As a result, teenagers have very high accident and fatality statistics.
One potential issue is that it's impossible to fix the problem of lacking experience. Teens cannot get it on their own without simply spending time on the road. You could argue that they need more time with parents and instructors, but they really need time on their own to get comfortable.
This means high-risk drivers share the road with you every day. All it takes is a single mistake and one of them could put you in the hospital. To better understand the risks, here are four reasons teens crash:
Technically, teen drivers are not allowed to drink. It's illegal until they turn 21. That does not stop them, however. One study found that 29 percent of deadly accidents involving teens also involved alcohol.
The same study linked speeding to 42 percent of deadly accidents involving teens. Male drivers were far more likely to speed than female drivers, with a difference of 35 percent to 21 percent. The problem with speeding is that it really reduces reaction times. A teen may feel in control until the split second before an accident, when he or she has no way to stop or avoid the crash.
3. Distracted driving
Cellphones contribute heavily to distracted driving, as teens take pictures, browse social media and send text messages behind the wheel. But it's not just cellphones. Distractions include talking to friends, singing along with the radio, programming the GPS and even simply talking on the phone. Inexperienced drivers need to stay 100 percent focused on the road.
4. Driving with friends
Teen drivers are safest when they drive alone. Studies have found that they are 2.5 times as likely to take risks if other teens are in the car with them. For instance, a teen may feel compelled to speed to show off to his or her friends. A teenager could also just get distracted by other people in the car. Emotions run hot at this age, and teens often spend time laughing, talking and socializing when they should focus on the road.
Avoiding the risks
Now that you know what types of mistakes teen drivers make, you can watch out for high-risk drivers. Keep your distance when you see them. Stay prepared yourself by avoiding distractions, alcohol and excessive speed. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel so that you're ready to react.
If you do find yourself involved in an accident, be sure you know your legal options.