Depending on the perspective, teen drivers elicit many different feelings from many different people. The two main perspectives, though, come from the teenage drivers themselves and from the parents of the teenage drivers. For the teen driver, there are feelings of excitement, independence and, perhaps, responsibility. For the parents of the teenage driver, there are feelings of worry, liability and, for many parents, sheer terror.
According to car crash statistics, teenagers are at the highest risk of having an accident. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, teenagers age 16 to 19 have the highest annual accident rates and traffic violations of any other age group. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers nationwide.
The following is a list of possible reasons why teen drivers are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents:
Distractions – With technology continuing to improve and become more affordable, teenagers are constantly provided with driving distractions. Common examples include cell phones and loud music from radios, CDs and MP3 players. All of these require a teenage driver to take their eyes off the road and focus their attention on the device itself.
Friends – Although many states now require teenage drivers to have their driver’s license for 6 months before legally being able to drive with other teenagers, this is one of the most commonly disobeyed driving laws. When a teenager gets their license, they don’t want to wait 6 months to share their driving privileges with friends. Friends are perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of teen driving. Most friends will simply be a distraction for the driver, but some may actually encourage the driver to drive recklessly or make poor driving decisions.
Invincibility – Many teenagers feel a heightened sense of invincibility that may influence their driving behaviors. While driver’s education classes spend a great deal of time focusing on the dangers of the road, many teens simply don’t believe any of the dangers apply to them. “That will never happen to me,” is a common thought among teens. This thought causes teenage drivers to take more risks, which make traffic accidents more common.
Inexperience – Every factor above can make teenage drivers more susceptible to traffic accidents, but combining any of them with most teenagers’ relative lack of driving experience greatly raises the stakes. In the United States, a teenager can generally apply for a learner’s permit at 15 years of age. This age can vary by state, but all teenagers who have completed their state driving requirements are eligible to obtain their driver’s license at age 16. Most teenagers have, at most, 1 year of driving experience before legally being able to drive on their own. This lack of experience can contribute to poor decision making and incorrect driving maneuvers.
Based on the factors above, it’s clear why auto insurance rates for teenage drivers are some of the highest in the industry. On average, that demographic costs insurance companies more money than any other. In order to reduce the number of teenage auto accidents, teen drivers must understand what a significant responsibility a driver’s license carries.