Whether you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver or you are a parent afraid for their teenager driver’s safety, the facts are unavoidable: teenage drivers are prone to distractions, and those distractions can be fatal. If you have been hurt in a crash, being able to prove that the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident can make your case much stronger. If you are a parent, knowing that your teenager is at risk of driving while distracted can help you implement safeguards that minimize their chances of succumbing to distracted driving.
Teens’ Brains are Primed for Distraction
Teenagers don’t drive distracted because they are lazy, or they don’t care about other people; it is simply how their brains work. Research out of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia from 2017 indicates that 40% of high school students reported texting or emailing while driving in the month prior to the survey. That’s only the teens who admitted to it; the real number is likely much higher.
Research from NPR backs up this claim. Drivers younger than 25 are three times more likely to use their phones while driving than older drivers are. Teenagers’ brains are still working on regulatory competence. Regulatory competence refers to your brain’s ability to control your emotions and decide where to focus your attention. A lack of regulatory competence is what leads to teenage meltdowns, rash decisions, and distracted driving.
Teenagers Often Think They Are Invincible
On top of that, you have the fact that many teenagers still think they are invincible. They know that bad things can happen to those who drive while texting or using social media, but in their minds, those things happen to other people—not to them. There’s a tendency to believe that they are more capable than other people. So yes, they text while driving, but they text faster and are better able to react to the car in front of them suddenly stopping, so it is not dangerous—or so they believe.
The Consequences Are Deadly
When you combine all of these facts about teenagers’ development with the multitude of distractions available to teenagers, the whole situation is a perfect storm. Unfortunately, many people aren’t willing to realize the consequences of their actions until those consequences affect them. A teenager might be told to avoid using their phone while driving 100 times, but until they get in a crash that causes their car to get taken away, they may not think twice about picking up the phone to send “one quick message.”
AAA has seen this issue grow dramatically over the years, which is why they have enacted public education initiatives and programs to teach teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving. Their analysis of crash statistics indicates that over 3,500 people were killed in crashes caused by teen drivers between 2013 and 2017.
By analyzing crash data, they found that many crashes happen during the 100 deadliest days of the year. This time frame spans Memorial Day to Labor Day, when teenagers are hanging out with their friends, staying out late, juggling summer jobs and other obligations, and taking road trips.
If you are injured in a crash caused by a teenage driver, this means that you have to consider the possibility that they were distracted at the time of the crash. Your attorney may be able to gather evidence that the other driver was using their cell phone, eating or drinking, or otherwise focusing on other activities at the time of the crash.
Know that there may be pressure to avoid seeking legal help or pursuing compensation. Parents have been known to fight for their children by arguing that they shouldn’t have their future ruined by one mistake or, even worse, deny that their child had any role in causing an accident.
Remember, though, that you have to do what is best for you. If an accident causes you to accumulate medical bills, take time off work, or deal with other losses, it simply isn’t fair for the other party to walk away without making amends for what they’ve done.
After a car crash, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. That’s where the team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey comes in. Call us at 251-260-3815 or reach out to us online to find out how we can help you with your personal injury claim.