You do not want to paint with a broad brush and say that you can never find a safe teenage driver. Some of them take safety very seriously and never cause accidents. They can be safe when they apply themselves and make it a priority.
That said, the numbers make it fairly clear that teen drivers, as a group, pose significant risks. They’re just not as safe as older drivers. There is no way around that.
For instance, did you know that the accident rate for 16-year-old drivers is higher than the accident rate for any other age groups? That does not mean they all crash or that you can’t find examples of safe drivers, but it does mean that the group as a whole poses the largest risk.
Clearly, one of the largest reasons for this is inexperience. Driving makes them nervous. They don’t have a feel for the car’s responsiveness. They have not logged enough miles to anticipate what other drivers plan to do. They make little mistakes that an older, more experienced driver could avoid.
Every driver has to start somewhere. Think of any other skill you have, from playing the guitar to running a seven-minute mile. You were not as good at it the first time around as you are now. Driving is a skill like any other and it takes practice.
Another issue is passengers. They present serious distractions for these young, inexperienced drivers. Plus, teenagers are often more likely to ride with their friends than adults, who drive themselves. This is because teens have less money for gas, they enjoy the social aspects of the drive, and it’s more likely that fewer of them will have driver’s licenses or even vehicles, meaning the friend with a car and a license becomes the driver for the group.
In any case, studies have found that the death rate for teen drivers goes up as they add passengers to the car. A teen riding with three friends is at much greater risk than a teen riding alone or with a parent.
You can’t address this topic without bringing up cellphones. Many teens use them while driving, as they do in all other parts of life. The odds of an accident double when they do. Some studies found that a teen on a phone has the same slow reaction time found with drivers who are 70 years old. Clearly, texting and social media put people at risk.
Accidents and rights
If you get into a serious accident with a teen driver for any of the reasons listed above or some other reason entirely, be sure you know exactly what legal rights you have and how you may be able to seek financial compensation.