According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the risk of motor vehicle accidents among teens between the ages of 16 to 18 years is higher than any other age group. During 2018, 285,000 teenagers between the ages of 13 to 19 years were treated in emergency rooms for car accident injuries. Additionally, 2,500 teens were killed in traffic accidents in 2018.
Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that 63,688 young drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 years were involved in car accidents during 2018. That number represents about 16 percent of the total car accidents in Florida that year.
However, when you look at the statistics for young drivers (defined by FLHSMV as 20 to 24-year-old drivers), the number of accidents is even larger. In 2018, young drivers were involved in 64,848 crashes. This number is higher than the combined figures for 15 to 20-year-old drivers.
Why is the Number of Accidents High for Teen and Young Drivers?
Teenagers and young drivers have a higher chance of being involved in traffic accidents for several reasons. Many young drivers lack the experience necessary to handle some driving conditions. For example, younger drivers lack experience driving in poor weather conditions and congested traffic, both of which can increase your risk of a car accident.
Speed is another factor in many young driver accidents. Many younger drivers underestimate the dangers of excessive speeds. They may not have a complete understanding of how increased speeds impact their ability to control a vehicle.
Distractions are also a common factor in car accidents involving young drives. Young adults and teenagers spend a great deal of time "connected" through the internet. They text and use electronic devices throughout the day and night, including when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Drugs and alcohol also contribute to a higher number of accidents involving young adults. Individuals under 21 years of age should not have alcohol, regardless of whether they are driving. Illegal drugs are dangerous at any age.
When you combine illegal drugs and alcohol with an inexperienced driver, the result can be deadly. Even though most teenage and young drivers know about the dangers of impaired driving, peer pressure can be tough to resist.
Who is Liable for a Car Accident Involving a Young or Teen Driver?
Liability is the same regardless of the age of the driver. If a driver causes a car accident, that driver can be personally liable for the damages caused by the car crash.
Damages in a typical car accident claim include:
- The cost of diagnosing and treating injuries
- Vocational, physical, occupational, and mental health therapy
- Psychological injuries, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD
- Permanent impairments, disabilities, and disfigurement
- Past and future loss of income and benefits, including decreases in earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life
- Mental anguish and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. Accident victims file claims with their PIP insurance coverage. All drivers are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in no-fault insurance coverage.
However, if the victim's injuries meet the serious injury threshold, the victim may sue the at-fault driver for damages. The driver's liability insurance should compensate the victim for damages. If the damages exceed the policy limits, the at-fault driver could be personally liable for the remaining damages.
What Should I Do if My Young Driver is Involved in a Car Accident?
Parents need to educate their children about the steps to follow after a car accident. They may want to include a checklist in the vehicle for their children to follow if they are involved in a traffic accident.
One important thing to tell your young driver is not to admit fault at the accident scene. Do not apologize or say you are sorry for the accident. That lesson may not follow your life-lessons about manners, but it is important in a car accident case.
Because teenage and young drivers are known to have a high risk of being involved in car accidents, some insurance companies automatically blame the young driver without investigating the matter thoroughly. Some police officers accept what the adult driver states happened at the accident scene instead of believing the teenage driver.
Your teenager or young driver could be blamed for an accident that they did not cause. Seeking legal advice from a car accident lawyer as soon as possible can help protect your young driver's legal rights and best interests.