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Understanding the risks of teenage driving

Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas tend to get busier once autumn comes around. A significant part of that is young people heading back to school.

Unfortunately, with the increased traffic will come a higher chance of an auto accident. A contributing factor? Teen drivers who are new to driving and lacking experience, awareness and skills.

Because so many teens take to the road as they drive themselves to school, to extracurricular activities and to work, it is important for parents to teach the fundamentals of safe driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided information to help in achieving this goal.

Teen driving accidents are common and an ongoing problem

The CDC says that auto accidents are the second most common way in which teens lose their lives in the United States. In 2019 alone, nearly 2,400 teens aged 13 to 19 years died in a crash in the United States. From age 16 to 19, teens have triple the chance of being in a fatal accident compared with people aged 20 years and above.

According to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, 14.1% of crashes in South Dakota involved a driver who was between 0 and 19 years of age.

The most dangerous time for teens is immediately after they have gotten their driver’s license. Night driving is especially risky.

There are certain risk factors for teen driving accidents:

  • Experience: New drivers simply lack the experience of more seasoned drivers, adding to the risks of driving on busy Sioux Falls streets, in winter weather conditions, etc.
  • Passengers: Passengers are known to be a problem for teen drivers. There is no doubt that it is exciting to be given the trust and responsibility to drive a car. The freedom can feel powerful. Driving friends around may be enjoyable but is also a contributor to auto accidents. Teens should know this and the number of teen passengers should be limited.
  • Night driving: Driving at night is challenging. The landscape is different and the lack of experience is exacerbated. This should be avoided or only allowed when it is necessary and the teen is trustworthy to be safe.
  • Distracted driving: Not only are cellphones an irresistible temptation, onboard systems also serve as distracting influences. The phone should be put out of reach with emphasis on how many accidents with catastrophic injuries and death stem from distracted driving.
  • Reckless driving: Teens can feel invincible behind the wheel and the temptation to go fast or behave recklessly is great. They should be told that it is not only dangerous but illegal to violate the law and fundamentals of safety.
  • Alcohol or drugs: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is problematic for people of any age, but it is specifically challenging for teens. It reduces their reactions, impairs their already questionable judgment and leads to big mistakes with life-changing consequences.

Teen auto accidents require experienced assistance and a full investigation

After an auto accident, it is essential to determine how and why it happened. A full accident investigation can help reveal if the driver was distracted, driving recklessly, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or engaging in other risky behaviors.

Simply because a teen might have made a mistake behind the wheel is not cause to castigate them. It is fully understandable that younger people will not have the requisite judgment to be fully careful of the dangers on the road. Those who have been hurt or, in the worst case, lost a loved one in an auto accident, must be aware of what they will be confronted with in the aftermath.

To fully investigate the case and decide how to proceed, there is great benefit in having local legal assistance. Consulting with those who are well known in the community, care about their neighbors and have been active in the Sioux Falls and the nearby areas of South Dakota can be a beneficial step in moving forward to recover for medical, personal and emotional loss.

Understanding the risks of teenage driving
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