Teen drivers are much more likely to be in a collision than their older counterparts. This, whether in Chicago or elsewhere across the state. In part, this is because teen drivers are:
- Less experienced
- More distracted
- More likely to make poor decisions while driving
If you are a teen or if you have a teen driver in your household, the apparent dangers likely are on your mind on a regular basis. Yet teens are likely to be in accidents with drivers of all ages. This means that even if you do not know a teen driver, you should still be aware of the issues facing these young motorists and be alert for any potential dangers.
How Often Are Teenagers Involved in Auto Accidents?
In 2017, approximately 2,364 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in car accidents in the United States. This translates to the biggest cause of accidental death among this age group. An additional 300,000 teens were injured but survived accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These numbers are disproportionately high when comparing them to the numbers of other fatal and injury-causing accidents in the United States.
All teens are at a high risk for an auto accident. However, among those 16-19 years old, males are more likely than females to get into a collision. Further, those licensed most recently cause the largest number of crashes. This is particularly true for teen drivers who have had a license for six months or less.
Teen Drivers Are More Likely to be Distracted
Surveys among drivers of all ages reveal that teen drivers are more likely to engage in distracting behaviors while driving. This includes:
- Making phone calls
- Talking to friends
Most states have laws forbidding distracted driving, but these tend to vary from state to state. This sometimes makes it difficult to understand exactly what is illegal in a certain area.
However, if an activity causes a driver of any age to lose focus, fail to pay attention, or otherwise be distracted, that activity should not be engaged in while driving.
The rise in popularity and the rapid advancements seen in cell phones has been a leading cause of distracted driving among teens. As a group, teen drivers are more likely to speed and to follow too closely. This means in the event an obstacle appears in their path, like a pedestrian or a slowing vehicle, a teen will have less time to avoid a collision. If even a momentary delay in observing the obstacle occurs, it may make the difference between a teen’s ability to avoid a crash and becoming the cause of an accident.
Checking a new email message, looking at or sending a text message, or browsing the internet can take a driver’s eyes off the road for critical seconds. This leaves the driver with the inability to notice changes in traffic conditions, including a changing traffic light.
Every year, more and more drivers admit that they were responsible for a crash because they were looking at their cell phones instead of the road. Further, many of these collisions result in injuries or even death. Teen driver accident attorneys in Chicago are very aware of these distractions.
Teen Accidents Occur Because of Inexperience
Accidents involving teens also occur because of a teen’s inexperience with:
- Operating a car
- Driving in different weather conditions
- Rules of the road
- Dangers posed by other drivers
Inexperience Operating A Car
Teens–although they do spend an average of one year driving with their learner’s permit–obviously still don’t have very much experience operating a car. Because of this, teens can still be confused by what certain buttons or levers do. This can lead to a dangerous situation. If they need to quickly wipe the windshield and hit the turn signal instead, things could get dangerous quick. Likewise, a teen driver may not know how to apply the parking brake, adjust the automatic side view mirrors, or turn on or off their bright headlights. All these things can lead to unsafe driving situations for teen drivers and can create collisions with other vehicles.
Inexperience in Driving In Different Weather Conditions
It can take years to develop the proper driving skills to be able to handle all types of weather conditions that can affect the roads. Especially in Chicago, rain, snow, and ice can all be potential hazards for drivers as the seasons change in Illinois. Since teen drivers are new behind the wheel, they more than likely do not have the experience necessary to deal with all these different types of road conditions. This can be especially compounded if a road changes from wet to icy on a single stretch of highway. Inexperience in driving in different weather conditions is a serious hazard that teen drivers face and is something that parents or guardians teaching young adults to drive should help them to practice.
Inexperience with The Rules Of The Road
Since teen drivers are new to driving and being out in traffic with other drivers, their lack of a full understanding of the rules of the road can make things much more dangerous for themselves and for other drivers. Most adults would admit that it took them years to understand all of the different laws that govern our roads, as well as the nuanced rules that are just innately understood. If a teen driver is apprehensive or nervous in any way, things can get dangerous when they approach a situation in which they are unsure about what to do or which law applies.
Inexperience with How Other Drivers Tend To Behave
The more you drive, the more you realize that other drivers tend to be the most dangerous element on the road. When I was taught to drive, I was always taught to drive as if the other driver was going to make a mistake at any moment. This is called Defensive Driving. It’s an extremely helpful technique to make sure that you are being as safe as possible and controlling what you are capable of controlling. If you are in a situation in which you question whether or not the car across the street is going to run a stop sign, sometimes it is best to just be patient and let them go or wait and see. Since teen drivers do not have a ton of experience with how to behave on the road and how to respond to potentially unsafe or reckless drivers, it makes teen drivers more susceptible to accidents.
What to do if You’re a Teen Driver Involved in an Accident
If you’re a new and inexperienced driver and you’ve been involved in a car accident, try not to panic. Handle the situation at the scene of the accident and follow some simple steps for what to do after an accident. Next, contact a parent or trusted adult to help you out.
If you believe that you weren’t at-fault for your accident and were injured, you should contact an attorney to discuss a possible case against the at-fault driver. For drivers under the age of 18, parents will need to file the injury claim.
A common issue facing teen drivers in lawsuits is reluctance to believing that your teen did everything correct. However, with good evidence and an experienced attorney by your side, you can still have a successful case against the at-fault driver.
What Should I Do After a Collision with a Teen Driver?
As long as teens continue to drive, some of them will be involved in collisions. There will be accidents with other cars, buses, trucks, or even pedestrians.
Some of these may be the teen’s fault while others may be the fault of another party. Regardless, an accident involving a teenager is dangerous and distressing for everyone in the teen’s family.
Illinois law provides accident victims with the right to seek a financial recovery against an at-driver. The person who causes an accident and injuries or a fatality is responsible.
Often, these claims can settle against the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance. Or, in some cases, they can resolve with the victim’s own insurance policy. The facts of the accident determine which claims may be available.
Right after your accident occurs, you should make sure that you file a police report. This is an essential step in making sure that your case is airtight. A claim without a police report could be denied altogether, so make sure the police are contacted right away.
You’ll also want to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. Teen drivers are often nervous after a car accident occurs, so they may be on the phone with a parent or guardian who’s helping them through the process. Make sure you collect information for all drivers as soon as you can.
Before you leave the scene of the accident, you should also take pictures of the area, including your car, vehicles involved in the incident, and your injuries. But only do this if you can do so safely. You should never put yourself in a dangerous situation for the sake of getting photos of the scene. Also make sure that you jot down contact information for any witnesses. Ask if a witness is willing to wait for the police to arrive to give them their statement.
Once you’ve left the scene of the accident, head directly to the emergency room or to your primary care doctor to receive treatment for your injuries. You should receive medical attention at once, regardless of the severity of your injuries. Let a trained healthcare professional examine you and diagnose any injuries or if there are any other concealed concerns that should be addressed.
Following your medical treatment, you should then begin searching for an experienced car accident attorney. Make sure to contact an attorney that has experience working with cases similar to yours. Contact and consult with an attorney before filing your injury claim. That way, your attorney can deal with the insurance companies on your behalf to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. If you were a teen driver and you believe the accident was not your fault, have your parents help you in finding an attorney to help you handle your case.
Receiving Compensation for Your Damages
After your accident occurs, you may be faced with more debt than you imagined. You’ll likely have medical debt, as well as debt from lost wages at work. However, an experienced attorney can help you recover those damages and help you get damages for other things like pain and suffering.
Damages generally fall into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include easily calculable costs, like medical bills and any wages you may have lost while you were off work. Non-economic damages are more subjective and cover pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and permanent disability or disfigurement.
A Chicago Teen Driver Accident Lawyer Can Help
Following a collision, you should not have to worry about how you will pay your medical bills or whether you will be able to provide for your family while you are unable to work. An experienced injury lawyer can help you. He or she can bring a civil claim for your damages against any and all responsible parties.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we have successfully resolved numerous claims on behalf of our clients who suffer injuries in automobile collisions. We have the experience to obtain the settlement or verdict that our client deserves. Let us help you, starting with a free, no obligation telephone consultation. We’re available 24/7.