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10/28/2021

Several young people dream of the day they get their driver's license and go behind the wheel. Driving can be a fun and exhilarating experience until the driver gets careless and crashes. It could also be that the motorist exercised due care, and another's negligence caused the accident. A third option covers hazardous road conditions or other factors beyond the driver's control. For teenage drivers, getting a license and driving is a dream come through. But being young and inexperienced, teen driver car accidents are more likely to get into motor vehicle crashes than adults. 

It is vital to know the state of teen drivers' car accidents in Texas as a young person or parent. This article looks into this and more. But for more in-depth information and to know your legal options, speak with a personal injury attorney at Calhoun, Meredith, & Sims. 

What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Teenage Drivers?

Female teen excited because she just got her drivers license

For most teenage drivers, getting a driver's license is the first stage of parental freedom and adulthood. They welcome the idea that they can now move around without relying on their parents and public transportation.. This sense of freedom makes most teenagers throw caution to the wind and disobey traffic rules meant for their safety. 

In the United States, motor vehicle collisions are the second-leading cause of death for teenagers. The first being suicide and the third, homicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2,400 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 died in vehicle crashes in 2019. 

About 258,000 received treatment in an emergency room for crash injuries. The numbers show that daily, about seven teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 died in a road traffic accident, and hundreds more injured. Additionally, the death and injuries from car accidents involving teens resulted in $4.8 billion in medical and work loss costs in 2018.

Another 2019 reports showed that teenagers comprised of: 

  • 8% of vehicle occupant deaths (cars, pickups, SUVs, and vans) among all ages
  • 4% of pedestrian accident deaths
  • 3% of motorcycle accident deaths
  • 6% of bicyclist deaths
  • 14% of all-terrain vehicle deaths

Who Is Most at Risk for Teenage Car Accidents?

The CDC states that the risk of teen driver crashes is higher among those between the ages of 16 and 19. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Highway Loss Data Institute), 16-year-old drivers and 17-year-old drivers hold the highest risks. Teen drivers within the CDC age bracket are three times more likely to be in fatal crashes than those aged 20 and above. 

Asides from the age groups, what category of teens are more at risk to become accident victims: 

  • Males: The CDC notes that in 2019, the motor vehicle deaths for male drivers aged 16 and 19 were twice the number of female drivers of the same age. 
  • Teens Driving With Teen Passengers: When a licensed teen driver has a fellow teenager as a passenger, they have a high chance of crashing.  The more teen passengers in the vehicle, the more the risk. 
  • Newly Licensed Teens: Teen driving accidents are higher during the first few months of getting a license. This is why safe driving tips for teenagers involve an adult driver being in the vehicle with them. 

Teenagers might have the driving skills needed to get a driver's license. But they lack the maturity and experience needed to navigate a vehicle to avoid accidents. The best way to help your teen stay safe on the road is by supervising them and ensuring they obey traffic rules.

How Often Do Texas Teenagers Get Into Accidents? 

Texas teens are not strangers to traffic accidents. The crash risk involving teenagers in the state is highest during the "100 Deadliest Days." This is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. 

In the past decade, about 750 teens died in an accident involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days. Compared to the rest of the year, that's more than seven people per day. The numbers show that summertime is a hot period for motor vehicle crashes involving Texas teens. 

Within that time, teenagers engage in one of the following risk behaviors:

  • Driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on a residential street
  • Driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit of a freeway
  • Texting
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Aggressive driving 
  • Driving without a seatbelt
  • Drowsy driving

Parents remain the best line of defense to keep their teenagers and other road users safe. Their duty entails educating their children on the dangers of reckless driving. It will also help if licensed adults conduct at least 50% supervised practice with teenagers.

What Are the Causes of Teen Drivers Car Accidents?

Several factors cause motor vehicle accidents involving teens. Most of them are avoidable if teenagers follow the road rules and safety tips released by law enforcement agencies. These risk factors include: 

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving takes many forms. They are either visual, manual, or cognitive. For teenage drivers, texting is the most common form of distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one in three teens has texted while driving. 

Also, dialing a phone while driving increases a teenager's chance of crashing by 23 times. Texting or calling takes the teen's focus from the task of driving and reduces their ability to react to a roadway hazard, incident, or inclement weather.

Driver Inexperience 

Distracted teen driver texting

Inexperienced teenage drivers are most likely not to recognize dangerous situations on the road. Thus, they make critical decision errors more than adult drivers. The cure to inexperience is developing driving abilities over time and safe driving practices.  

Nighttime and Weekend Driving

Teenage car accidents are more common at night than daytime and during weekends. A 2019 report showed teens' fatality crashes were highest on Sunday, followed by Saturday. Fridays and Wednesdays were also peak days for teenage deadly crashes in 2019. 

9 p.m. to midnight was the peak time for teens to crash in 2019. The time is closely followed from between midnight to 3 a.m. and 6 p.m to 9 p.m. This is because teenagers exhibit more risky behaviors during these times and days. Thus, it would be wise for parents to keep their teens off the road at these times. 

Not Using Seat Belts

Seat belt usage is the lowest among teen drivers despite all the teen-channeled seat belt safety advocacy. The preceding explains why a majority of drivers and teenage passengers in crashes are unbuckled. The NHTSA notes that nine out of 10 fatal passengers in teen car accidents in 2018 were unbuckled. 

This is why the CDC advocates for states to use primary enforcement laws and not a secondary enforcement seat belt law. A primary enforcement seat belt law allows police officers to ticket drivers or passengers for not buckling down. Texas uses primary enforcement for teens and its Child Seat Law. 

The law came into effect in 1985 and applied to 7-year-olds and younger, who are 57 inches or taller. It is also applicable to 8-year-olds and above in all seats. Failure to comply with the law gets the offender a $200 fine for a first offense. 

Speeding

Newly licensed teens are more likely to speed despite being inexperienced drivers. This makes speeding a critical safety issue for teenagers. NHTSA notes that speed accounted for 28% of fatal car accidents in 2018. 

Also, teens who speed while inexperienced will continue to do so as adults. This increases the danger over time. Thus, it is best to curb teen speeding at the beginning stage before getting out of hand.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

Most teenage drivers are below the legal drinking age, but it does not prevent them from consuming alcohol. Some are also prone to consuming recreational marijuana, prescription pills, and other illegal substances before driving. 

Not only will alcohol-impaired driving cause an accident, but it would also affect the teen's driving record and life in general. Furthermore, since underage drinking is illegal, the teen stands the chance of facing criminal charges. Parents can avoid this by making their children read their state's driver manual and enrolling them in driver education programs. 

Drowsy Driving 

Teenagers are at a stage of life filled with activities. From schoolwork to their social calendar, there is a lot to do. All these activities make them compromise on sleep, which could cause an accident. In 2019, drowsy driving claimed 697 lives. The only way to avoid it is by getting adequate sleep and rest before driving.

Can a Texas Parent Get Sued for Their Child's Car Accident? 

When a vehicle accident happens, it has several impacts on Texas drivers. From property damages to bodily injuries, there are always financial losses following a motor vehicle accident. This is why the first question crash victims ask is who will pay for their damages. 

When the crash is between two licensed adults, the answer to this question is simple. The fault party will pay compensation to the victim as Texas is a fault state. However, when the crash involves a teenager and an adult, the case becomes complex. 

This is because a teen driver by law is a minor under the authority of a parent or guardian. This is why most U.S. states have parental responsibility laws. Under these laws, a parent is responsible for the mishaps done by their child, including car accidents. 

It means that the parent would pay for the damages even though they were not driving the car at the time. This is in line with the tort doctrine of vicarious liability. However, Texas law differs a bit from the general parental responsibility law.  

Texas and the Family Purpose Doctrine

Texas, unlike other states in the U.S., does not strictly follow the Family Purpose Doctrine. The latter makes the owner of a vehicle liable for crashes involving a family member. The liability stands whether or not the car owner gave the family member permission to use the vehicle.

Texas follows the Negligent Entrustment Doctrine. It makes parents liable for the acts of their teenage children if: 

  • They entrusted the vehicle to their teenage child;
  • They knew or should reasonably have known that the teenager is unlicensed, incompetent, or a reckless driver; and
  • The person entrusted with the vehicle negligently caused the accident.

The second condition is often hard to prove. Knowing that a teen has a past traffic violation record is not enough to create a history of negligent driving. Thus, the victim would have to produce sufficient evidence that shows that the parents knew about their child's recklessness. 

If they cannot, they will be unable to hold the parent liable for the teen's actions. However, if the teenager is included in their parents' auto liability insurance coverage, the parents have no choice but to entertain the insurance claim by the victim.

Teen driver just got the keys to her new car

This is because if the victim cannot hold the parent responsible, they can sue the minor. But if the parents are liable, then the victim can join both the parent and teen as defendants. An experienced attorney can advise crash victims on who to sue. 

Get Calhoun, Meredith, & Sims Experienced Accident Attorneys!

Injury statistics for teen accidents are not encouraging. Being a minor does not mean an at-fault driver is not liable for damages. If your car accident involved a teenager, our personal injury attorneys would help you get compensation. Find out what your legal options are by contacting Calhoun, Meridith, & Sims today.

Consulta Gratis
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