Updated June 29, 2022

Teen Driving: Statistics and Laws

Think about the first time you handed over the keys of the car to your teenager. Did you feel excited, nervous, afraid, or proud? Maybe a combination of the four?

Driving is a great milestone filled with independence and excitement, but it’s also important to understand teen driving statistics and laws before allowing your child to get behind the wheel of a car. Keep your teen drivers safe by educating them about the rules and dangers of the road.

Teenage Car Accident Statistics

The number of teenage car accidents per year is a staggering. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States.

Of any age group, teen drivers have the highest crash rate. The CDC found that drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 years old are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers aged 20 or older. Nearly 2,400 teens were killed and about 300,000 were treated in emergency rooms in 2017 for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes, totaling six deaths and hundreds of injuries every day.

Causes of Teenage Car Accidents

A major cause of car accidents among teen drivers is due to distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calculated that, of all the teen driving fatalities in 2017, 229 deaths were related to distraction-affected crashes.

Distracted driving can take many forms for teenage drivers:

  • Interacting with other passengers
  • Using a cell phone to text or call
  • Looking at something inside or outside of the vehicle
  • Singing or dancing to music
  • Grooming or applying makeup
  • Eating and drinking
  • Changing the radio station
  • Reaching for an object inside the car

Saying that driving with a friend, having a cell phone, and looking around the car while driving is common is an understatement; almost everyone does those things at some point. Knowing how to manage those distractions might come with more behind-the-wheel experience.

With that said, another leading cause of teen driving accidents is inexperience. For example, a new driver is unable to refer to past situations where they handled distractions more efficiently, or, due to inexperience, they underestimate dangerous situations.

Other causes of teen car accident injuries and fatalities include not using a seat belt, drowsy driving, reckless or aggressive driving, and driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Teen Driving Laws in Indiana

Let’s face it: Distractions are impossible to avoid while driving—no matter how old the driver. Several states have taken note of the devastating teen driver accidents, injuries, and fatalities and have attempted to make a difference.

Compared to some states, the Indiana Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program is a more interactive and complex one. The goal is to reduce accident fatalities and give teen drivers more preparation and experience. GDL programs in Indiana have a three step process:

  1. A combination of in-class and behind-the-wheel training performed simultaneously—not in separate segments
  2. More hours of driving experience spread across each season to give teen drivers weather-related experience and expectations
  3. Granting of a drivers license is based on skill, experience, and performance instead of completing a certain amount of driving time

In addition, in the summer of 2009, Indiana changed its GDL laws: If drivers are granted a license at 16 or 17 years old, their license is under a probationary period until they turn 18. And finally, in 2011, Indiana added on more driving time as a requirement for obtaining a license as well as increased parent or guardian participation while teens are learning to drive.

Contact an Automobile Accident Attorney Today

Sadly, despite education and awareness, the worst can still happen. Complications from a fatal or serious crash can last a lifetime, but if there’s any sort of relief, why not seek it?

If your teen was involved in a car crash, you are urged to contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.

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