In Tennessee, there is a graduated driver’s license program that addresses young and novice motorists. As these drivers are developing their skills, they are able to gain hands-on experience in a controlled environment. According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, teenagers younger than 18 go through three phases of safe driving practices that require a clean record as well as the participation of a parent or legal guardian.
Programs such as this one are in place for a good reason: fatal motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that 2,163 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in a car accident in 2013. That translates to six teenager deaths every day.
There are several risk factors associated with these accidents, the CDC states, including the following:
- Teenage passengers in a car with a teenage driver
- Males, who had a fatality rate nearly two-thirds higher than their female counterparts
- Teens with a new license, as the risk of an accident is higher in the first months
One key issue is that young drivers lack the experience to know the dangers of a situation, such as poor weather or road conditions. Further, if a teen gets into trouble, he or she may lack the ability to safely correct the situation.
While some factors simply require time and practice, others can be avoided. Distracted driving, for example, is a serious threat to drivers of all ages. A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distractions have been linked to 58 percent of teenager car accidents classified as moderate to severe.
It is imperative for parents and their teenagers to ensure the young motorist is ready to responsibly hit the road. Doing otherwise puts lives in danger.