Car crashes can cause serious head trauma for teens

Teen drivers are known to be one of the most at-risk groups for car accidents in general. Although overall car accident rates have declined over the past few years, car crashes continue to be the leading cause of traumatic brain injury-related deaths among teens.A new study indicates that teen victims of car accidents are also likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury.

"The brain is the organ that is least able to heal, so prevention is the best medicine," said the lead author of the report. Lawmakers and researchers agree that a graduated licensing system is one effective way to prevent car accidents among teen drivers. Surveys have shown that states with graduated licensing laws have a lower rate of brain injuries and traffic fatalities among teen drivers.

Seatbelt laws have also been shown to be effective ways to prevent brain injuries in the event of a crash. There are also some initiatives in graduated licensing systems to limit the number of passengers a teen driver can transport, restrictions on cell phone use, and restricted nighttime driving.

About 55,000 teenage drivers and their passengers sustained injuries in 2009 and 2010. Of those, approximately 30 percent had acute head injuries. These injuries include concussions, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries.

The graduated licensing laws help encourage teens to exercise additional care while driving, and to pay attention to potentially dangerous situations. Drivers who do not exercise a reasonable level of care behind the wheel may be liable for any injuries that they cause.

Source: Forbes, "Car Crashes Are The Leading Cause of Fatal Head Trauma Among Teens," Jim Gorzelany, April 2, 2012.

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