The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that auto accidents are the main cause of preventable death in teens. In 2020, 207 individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 died in motor vehicle accidents in California.
Getting to the heart of what is causing so many fatal crashes involving teenagers can help to put measures in place to prevent them in the future.
Inexperience behind the wheel
Lack of experience is a significant contributing factor to teen auto accidents. New drivers may not have the same level of judgment and decision-making skills as more seasoned drivers. The process of learning to navigate various road conditions takes time, and inexperience can lead to misjudgments and errors.
With the prevalence of smartphones and other electronic devices, teens are at a higher risk of taking their attention off the road. Texting, social media and even conversations with passengers can divert their focus and increase the likelihood of accidents.
Speeding and reckless driving
Speeding and reckless driving amplify the risk of accidents among teen drivers. The excitement of being on the road and the desire to show off can lead to unsafe driving behaviors. Teens are more likely to take risks when they have friends in the car. Peer pressure and distractions from passengers can divert the driver’s attention and influence their decision-making.
Even a small amount of alcohol or substances can impair cognitive and motor skills, putting the driver and others on the road at risk. Educating teens about the dangers of impaired driving is an important step in preventing accidents.
Reduced visibility, glare from headlights and increased fatigue can hinder their ability to navigate the road safely. Teens should exercise extra caution when driving at night and consider limiting nighttime driving until they gain more experience.
The top causes of teen auto accidents in California stem from a combination of factors. Equipping young drivers with the knowledge and skills to make safe choices on the road may help to reduce these crashes.