The dangers of having a teenager behind the wheel

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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Parents of teenagers in California have a lot to be concerned about, and if their teens are driving there are even more reasons to worry. Teenagers are at the highest risk of car accidents, and many of these are serious or even fatal. With the high prevalence of crashes, teens need to be trained to practice extra caution behind the wheel.

According to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have the most traffic violations and accidents every year compared to all other drivers. The causes for fatal crashes include:

  • Speeding
  • Turning improperly
  • Not obeying the right of way
  • Passing or changing lanes
  • Lack of signaling
  • Drugs and/or alcohol
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road

The American Automobile Association discusses that distraction is a major factor in the majority of teenage-caused accidents. In fact, almost 90% of road-departure crashes and more than 75% of rear-end accidents are due to distracted driving. Interacting and talking with passengers is the most common type of distraction, but cell phone use is a close second. Other forms of distraction are:

  • Looking at something outside or inside the vehicle
  • Radio/entertainment use
  • Grooming
  • Reaching for something in the vehicle

Considering the lack of experience teenage drivers have, distractions significantly increase the risk. Parents are encouraged to get involved and teach children about the dangers of cell phone use while behind the wheel. States are also encouraged to have graduated driver licensing laws that restrict the number of passengers and restrict certain activities for a specified amount of time until teenagers gain the necessary experience to be able to manage unsafe situations on the road.



Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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