I am a father of two teenagers (one of whom drives) and a car-accident lawyer in Miami. In my career I have investigated thousands of traffic accidents across the State of Florida, involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, scooters, buses, hover boards, and bicycles. Sadly, one of the most significant factors in car crashes is the age of the drivers–both young and old. This first installment of a two-part post focuses on teenage driving accidents in Florida.
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Part I: Teenage Driving Accidents
More teenagers die or are seriously injured in traffic accidents every year in the United States than from any other cause. In 2013, for example, 2,163 teenagers between the ages of 16-19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and another 243,243 sustained serious injuries that required hospital care. Sadly, that means six teenagers die every single day of the year in car crashes. Statically, teens aged 16-19 are almost three times more likely to die behind the wheel than are drivers 20 years of age or older. Why?
The most common reason is often described by some of the best personal injury lawyers who represent car-accident victims as “Pilot Error,” which means that the driver failed to see and appropriately avoid a danger. I have noticed this phenomenon while being driven by my 17-year-old daughter, Sara Rose. While approaching an intersection, she will not anticipate the crossing the same way that an experienced driver would; after all, she has been driving for less than a year. She will time the crossing awkwardly, frequently causing our car to stop short or accelerate suddenly to get across before the light changes. Either way, it’s a rough ride, particularly when she is executing left turns against oncoming traffic–for instance on US1 in Coral Gables, which can be a harrowing stretch to negotiate, even for an experienced driver.
The primary reason teens have more car accidents is simply that they are still learning to drive. Sadly, their inexperience results most commonly in one of four typical accident scenarios: left-turn accidents, rear-end collisions, single-vehicle loss of control leading to running off the road, or collisions with trees and parked cars.
The best way to protect your teens is to make sure they get as much instruction, observation, and practice as possible when they are learning to drive. Many parents simply rely on the fact that their local DMV was convinced that their child knows how to drive as seems evident from the fact that they issued that child a driver’s license. Statistics argue that the DMV is too often wrong in its assessment of a teenager’s driving skill. Rather, I suggest that you have your child drive you at least weekly in different scenarios–highway, traffic, school zones, etc.–to reinforce safe driving habits. This assumes, of course, that you the parent are also a good driver.
The next best advice I can give is to try to eliminate distractions from your teen while he or she is behind the wheel. Distracted teen drivers account for 58% of all accidents. Distractions range from texting, or eating, to simply talking to passengers while driving. For instance, my two kids were having a heated debate about something recently while she was driving me somewhere. Although something as innocent as talking while driving is behavior most adults have no trouble managing, remember that the teen behind the wheel has not yet developed the intuition, anticipation, and reflexes of a seasoned driver. Try to imagine Sara Rose debating the originality of Melania Trump’s RNC speech while approaching I-95 and attempting to merge into another lane at 65 mph . . . because I cannot.
INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT IN FLORIDA
If you or your teenaged driver has been injured in a car accident, you have very specific legal rights that need to be protected. Our Miami car accident law office fights hard to represent accident victims equitably all across Florida and throughout the country. Call us today for a free and confidential initial consultation 24/7 at 1-866-597-4529 or 305-441-0440 or email us directly at [email protected]. You may be entitled to monetary compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of the capacity to enjoy life. We are ready to help.