Car accidents caused by young, inexperienced drivers are all too common today, unfortunately. The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported that, in 2013, almost 963,000 teen drivers were involved in car accidents. These accidents resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.

These car accidents do not only harm the young drivers — the majority of people injured or killed in these collisions are passengers, occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians.

Accidents can’t always be avoided, but understanding the risks for teen drivers can help to make the roads safer for everyone.

Inexperience of Teen Drivers

Driving is complicated, requiring awareness and knowledge of how to respond to road hazards and harsh weather conditions. It takes time and practice to learn solid driving skills and to develop the quick reaction times that help drivers avoid car accidents.

Quite simply, teen drivers lack experience. Because of this, they often underestimate dangerous situations or are unable to rapidly or appropriately respond. Thanks to stereotypically impulsive behavior and overconfidence, teenagers also frequently speed and follow too closely behind other vehicles. All of these factors contribute to the increased likelihood of a car accident.

Distracted and Drunk Driving

According to AAA studies, distracted driving is a contributing element to about six out of every 10 teen car accidents. Teens are at greatest risk for being involved in a crash if they have teen passengers in the vehicle.

Cell phone use is another big distraction for teens, as they habitually take their eyes off the road to answer the phone or reply to text messages. Other distractions, such as eating or changing the radio station, also cause young drivers to have car accidents.

Teenage drunk driving is to blame for a large number of motor vehicle accidents every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 10 high schoolers drinks and drives, and in 2011, nearly 1 million people under age 18 got behind the wheel after drinking.

Graduated Driver Licensing for Teen Drivers

In an effort to decrease the incidence of car accidents involving teen drivers, Idaho, like many states, has implemented a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. With this program, teens are required to have 50 hours of supervised driving over the course of six months, with 10 of those hours at night, before taking the driving exam.

At the intermediate stage, teens have a nighttime driving restriction and are only allowed one passenger under the age of 17. After they gain adequate experience, they are awarded a full-privilege standard driver’s license. GDL programs have led to a significant reduction in teen car accidents.

Have you or a loved one experienced injury or wrongful death at the hands of a teen driver? Call the experienced attorneys at Montgomery Dowdle in Boise, Idaho, to schedule a free consultation to discuss your car accident and injuries.