Do Young Drivers Cause More Automobile Accidents?

Every time a driver gets behind the wheel of an automobile, there is a chance that a car accident will occur. Some variables that affect the likelihood of being involved in a crash are within our own control. For example, keeping one’s car in good working order, driving safely, and following the rules of the road certainly can help limit dangerous situations.

On the other hand, no matter how safely we drive, it is possible to encounter conditions outside of our control that increase our likelihood of harm. For example, encountering drivers who are under the influence of intoxicants, or who are distracted by mobile phones, can be deadly. Similarly, drivers who are overly aggressive, speed, and take unnecessary risks endanger everyone on the road. 

But what about youth? Do younger drivers increase the risk of harm to the rest of us? After all, being young is just part of life - not a bad choice like driving under the influence of intoxicants or sending a text while driving. In this article, we will discuss whether young drivers cause more automobile accidents.

What Role Does Youth Play in Car Accidents?

Driving safely requires physical ability, mental discipline, and attention to detail. And, like most repetitive endeavors, drivers typically develop increased skill and wisdom with practice. So, while some might believe that the quicker reflexes often associated with youth can compensate for a young driver’s lack of experience, statistics suggest otherwise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teens between the ages of 16 and 19 constitute the age group of drivers with the highest risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. The CDC cites research determining that teen drivers, on a per mile driven basis, are almost 3 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers 20 years of age and older.

Which Teens Are Most Likely to Have Motor Vehicle Crashes?

The CDC notes 3 groups of teens with an especially high risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident:

  1. New drivers: Teens who are in their early months of licensure are more likely to be involved in a crash than other teens. Obviously, experience matters.
  2. Drivers with young passengers: When teen drivers have passengers who are teens or young adults, they are more likely to have crashes. Furthermore, the more passengers the teen driver carries, the greater the chance of having a crash.
  3. Male drivers: One study by the CDC showed that teen male drivers were twice as likely as teen female drivers to die in a motor vehicle crash.

Will Experience Always Make Teens Better Drivers?

The unfortunate answer is “no.” While it is true that the overall crash rate for teen drivers does decline as they gain experience driving, there is research that shows that some teen drivers actually start to take more risks as their driving experience increases. According to Science News for Students, some teens initially demonstrate great care as new drivers. However, when some of these teens start feeling more comfortable behind the wheel, they start giving in to a number of distractions. Examples include:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Texting
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Eating and drinking
  • Reading emails
  • Engaging in social media on smartphones
  • Talking and interacting with passengers

The bottom line is that any form of distracted driving is dangerous for any driver, and especially so for teen drivers.

Call with Questions

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of a teen driver, or any other driver, you are entitled to be compensated for your losses. We know you will likely have questions about your rights under the law and the best way to proceed. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to answer your questions. We handle automobile accident cases all over Oregon. We believe that it is imperative to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions so that all of society will be safer. Please call us for a free consultation.


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