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Birmingham Teens at High Risk of Winter Traffic Crashes

Dec 4, 2012 - Birmingham by

This winter season, many teen drivers will be getting their drivers’ licenses for the first time. Others will be going into their first winter driving season, and still others who are away at college will be driving home for their winter break.

If you are the parent of a teen driver, you may have concerns about your child’s safety during the dangerous winter driving months. These concerns aren’t unfounded since Centers for Disease Control reports indicate that car accident deaths are the leading cause of death for kids ages 16-19.

Parents who want to protect their teens from dangerous driving behavior need to be vigilant in making sure that their kids know safe driving rules and that they don’t fall into dangerous situations.

Our injury attorneys in Birmingham urge parents to take some time over winter break this year to sit down and talk to their kids about how to reduce the risk of accidents and be a more responsible, safer driver. 1194812_starting_the_car

The Dangers of Teenage Auto Accidents in Alabama
The dangers of teenage auto accidents in Alabama have been well-established. In fact, according to an AAA publication called “Alabama’s Teenage Drivers at Risk,” teen accidents are a “critical problem that needs immediate attention.” Statistics provided in the AAA publication reveal just how many teen accidents there are:

  • Between 2004 and 2008, 708 teenagers ages 15-19 died in Alabama auto accidents.
  • Between 2004 and 2008, another 38,233 teens ages 15-19 were injured in car wrecks in Alabama.
  • Between 2004 and 2008, an average of 21 teens were either injured or killed on a daily basis in traffic crashes in Alabama.
  • Although teens account for only 7 percent of Alabama drivers, they account for around 13 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes.
  • In 2008, 10 teen drivers were killed. During this same time period, 52 other individuals, including passengers in the teen’s vehicles and motorists in other cars, were also killed by fatal wrecks involving teens.
  • Almost one out of every five fatal Alabama traffic accidents between 2004 and 2008 involved a teen driver.

These statistics demonstrate the seriousness of teenage auto accidents. Unfortunately, while some of these accidents result from teenage inexperience behind the wheel, other accidents arise as a result of clearly irresponsible and dangerous behaviors on the part of young drivers.

Both driver distraction and driver drowsiness are two big problems in the teen age group. Distraction.gov, for instance, indicates that a full 11 percent of teen drivers age 20 or under who were in fatal wrecks were distracted when the accident occurred. Further, an Auto Blog report of an AAA study showed that teen drivers are more likely to drive drowsy and less likely to pull over and rest when nodding off as compared to their adult counterparts.

How to Prevent Teenage Auto Accidents
Because so many teenagers engage in risky behavior when driving, it is important for parents to talk to their teens in an effort to help prevent car accidents. Parents should stress to their children:

  • The high risk of accidents
  • The importance of paying attention and avoiding distractions
  • The serious consequences of drunk and impaired driving
  • The dangers of drowsy driving
  • The importance of being a courteous driver
  • The dangers of exceeding the speed limit
  • The necessity of using turn signals

Parents may also wish to enter into a driving contract with children that clearly establishes the responsibility they are accepting by earning a driver’s license. A teen-driving contract can be downloaded from the website of the Alabama Department of Public Health, which also provides more statistics on the dangers of teen driving.

Both parents and children need to be aware that an accident can have major consequences for the teen — even if he is lucky enough not to be injured. If a teenager injures someone else in an accident or causes a wrongful death, a civil lawsuit can arise to allow the injured victim to obtain damages.

Additional Resources:

Birmingham Injury Risks and Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Published by Cross & Smith LLC, November 14, 2012.

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