Everyone has an opinion on drivers in Florida, and it’s very easy to point fingers at certain groups who supposedly cause more accidents. Teenagers are labeled as troublemakers wherever they go, but this is especially true behind the wheel.
So, does the label fit?
Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where the statistics say it does. According to the numbers, teen drivers get injured or die from car accidents at an incredibly high rate not just in Florida, but throughout the country.
Why Are So Many Florida Teenagers Dying in Car Accidents?
Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers nationwide.
That’s right. In 2016, 2,820 teenagers died due to auto accidents throughout the
United States. That amounts to over seven teenagers every day.
Moreover, while all age groups are at risk of car crashes, the rate for teen car accident deaths is three times higher than for any other age group.
Unfortunately, these statistics are even more scary due to the fact that teenagers drive at lower rates compared to older age groups.
Studies on teenagers and driving show that a lack of experience and underdeveloped brains frequently contribute to poor driving habits. Teenage brains are more likely to take risks, react more slowly, and be more affected by controlled substances. All of these factors are crucial to safe driving.
Here are some more harrowing statistics about teenagers and fatal car accidents:
- Only 59% of high school students say that they always wear their seatbelts. This is the lowest rate among any age group.
- In 2016, 32% of male teenagers who died in car accidents were speeding at the time, a factor that frequently contributes to crashes.
- Three out of four auto accidents involving teenagers are due to “critical errors.” These errors include being distracted by cell phones and the inability to scan for hazardous conditions.
Again, these conditions are not limited to teenagers. Distracted driving, for example, is one of the top causes of car accidents throughout many different age groups. However, the rate at which teens have a variety of different types of accidents is significantly higher across the board.
How to Keep Your Florida Teenager Safe Behind the Wheel
Sadly (no matter how much they sometimes wish they could), parents cannot speed up the development of their child’s brain. That being said, they can use other methods to keep their children safe as they learn to drive. If you are teaching your child to drive, heed this advice and reduce their risk of getting into a serious car accident:
Lead by example.
Over half of all teenagers learn how to drive from their parents, and these lessons don’t just take place when the teenager is behind the wheel. If you speed, your child will think it is okay to speed. If you don’t buckle your seatbelt, your child won’t, either.
Show your child how to be a safe driver even when they are in the passenger seat. The more they see you obeying the rules, the less likely they will be to break them when you’re not around.
Practice, practice, practice.
Driving a car is a skill. In order to develop a skill, you have to practice. Carve out some time in your schedule to sit in the passenger seat and give your teenager some driving practice. Whether you are doing K-turns in a parking lot or just driving to the store, each hour of practice will help them become a better driver.
Share these statistics.
Don’t keep these facts to yourself. If your child doesn’t know the true dangers of driving, talk to them. Do not rely on their driver’s education course to set them straight. Teenagers need to know that when they get behind the wheel, they take their life in their hands (as well as the lives of their friends and passengers in the car.)
The same principle applies when they are a passenger and a teenage friend is driving. If they do not trust their friend to stay focused or stay sober, they shouldn’t trust their friend to drive them around.
Limit their time with passengers (and as a passenger when friends are driving).
Statistics show that the risk of getting into a car accident increases when there are more teenagers in the car. Why? Teens get distracted. Their friends might want to show them a text message or turn the music up really loud.
Unfortunately, these distractions could be fatal.
Make it a rule that they cannot drive their friends around for the first year or two of driving. Or only allow them to drive one other person at a time.
As for limiting your teen’s time as a passenger in their friend’s car, there are options. Maybe it means chauffeuring your child around for another year or two.
Exhausting, yes, but know that you could be saving their life. Or you could throw your child some Uber or Lyft money if they are heading out with a friend that you think is not trustworthy behind the wheel.
Talk to your insurance company.
If your teenager is getting ready to drive, talk to your insurance company. Your rates may go up because you have a young driver on your plan, but it is crucial to know what coverage you can get in case they get into an accident.
In the event of a car accident, you do not want any surprises when it comes to insurance payments. Keep a lawyer on call. Due to the unfortunate reality of teen drivers and car accident rates, your teenager may be blamed for the damages regardless of their culpability. If your child was not at fault, you might have to fight in court for the compensation you deserve.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.