On Saturday, a 16-year-old passenger was killed during a crash in Iron County, Missouri. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a pick-up truck, driven by another 16-year-old, ran off the right side of the road, overcorrected and then overturned. The passenger, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the truck.
This accident serves as a tragic reminder of the frightening statistics for teen drivers:
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens age 15-20 in the U.S.
- Teens crash at three times the rate of more experienced drivers.
- Teen drivers tend to carry more passengers, which increases the risk of a fatal accident by 44 percent.
Education and awareness can help teen drivers establish lifelong habits that will help keep them safe for years to come.
Lesson #1 – Seat Belts Save Lives
For adults and older children (who are big enough for seat belts to fit properly), seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. Yet millions do not buckle up on every trip.
- A total of 21,022 passenger vehicle occupants died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2014.
- More than half of teens (13-19 years) and adults (20-44 years) who died in crashes in 2014 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
- More than 2.3 million drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2014.
- Young adult drivers and passengers (18-24) have the highest crash-related non-fatal injury rates of all adults.
Lesson #2 – Main Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Speed – driving too fast for road conditions
- Impairment – driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distraction – diverting attention away from the primary task of driving
Oftentimes all three of these factors play a role in a single crash. Whatever the reason for a crash, adult drivers are urged to take note of these risk factors, make the necessary adjustments to their driving habits, and lead by example.
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Always obey posted speed limits. These limits are set on roads and curves for a reason.
- Always make other arrangements if you have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs. With the advent of Uber and other ride sharing apps, it is now easier than ever to call a ride from virtually anywhere.
- Always make it a habit to address to phone calls, texts, social media messages and directions BEFORE you hit the road. Once underway, place your phone in a spot where it is not easily accessible. Wait until you arrive at your destination or pull over to do anything on your mobile device, eat or drink, put on make-up, adjust your mirrors or really anything that would divert your attention away from the primary task of driving.
- Talk to teen drivers on how to minimize distractions while driving.
- Your teen driver has been watching you drive from the backseat for years. Practice what you preach and set a good example.
Casey & Devoti is a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. Partners Matt Casey and Matt Devoti are authorized speakers for the ‘End Distracted Driving’ Student Awareness Program. Togther they have nearly 40 years of trial experience. They handle a variety of personal injury matters, including: car, truck and train accidents, victims of impaired and distracted driving, medical malpractice and birth injuries, product liability, slips/trips/falls, elder care and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation, and wrongful death. Matt and Matt proudly serve clients throughout metropolitan St. Louis, southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another, call the office today for a free, no-obligation consultation: (314) 421-0763.