100 Deadliest Days for Chicago Teen Drivers
The sense of freedom a Chicago teenager feels when he or she finally gets a driver’s license is probably their most exhilarating right of passage into adulthood. Unfortunately, however, more than 12 young people between the ages of 15 and 19 die every single day in automobile crashes. In fact, more teenagers die in the United States from injuries sustained in automobile accidents than from any other cause of death (including homicide and suicide) and they are more vulnerable during the three months of summer, for a variety of reasons.
Contributing factors are more free time, recreational driving with friends, staying out later, driving faster than the posted speed limit and not wearing seat belts.
Scientific studies have found that our brains aren’t fully developed until around 25 years of age, which leaves many young people with an “invincibility complex” that prevents them from exercising caution in certain situations and very often results in severe injuries or death.
This fact explains the main reason for Chicago teenage fatalities in car accidents, which is not talking or texting while driving, but the fact that many do not wear seat belts. Over 2,400 teenagers were killed in automobile accidents during 2012 and more than half of those fatalities were attributed to not buckling up. These findings are supported by research done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Safety Council. General Motors sponsored a survey of 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 to determine why teens aren’t buckling up and to understand their perceptions about safety when they are riding in cars as passengers.
Statistics show that passengers account for 44% of teen fatalities and 1 in 4 teenagers indicate they do not wear seatbelts and the main reason they don’t is simply because they forget or it’s not a habit they’ve adopted. According to the “Teens in Cars” study, teenage fatalities peaked in 2002 at over 5,000 deaths and, while the number of teen traffic deaths has dropped by 56% from that peak, the percentage of teenage fatalities from not utilizing seat belts has remained the same.
The United States began enacting seat belt laws during the 80’s and early 90’s and those laws vary from state to state. New Hampshire is the only state that does not require adults to wear seat belts, although there is a provision that covers all passengers and drivers under the age of 18. Every other state in America requires the use of seat belts for everyone in a motor vehicle, with 33 states having primary laws (meaning a cop can stop a motorist and issue a citation for not wearing a seat belt) and 16 states have secondary laws (meaning that law enforcement can only issue a citation for not wearing a seat belt if there is also some other violation).
Adults face the same risks as teenagers while driving, but they have much more experience to minimize those risks. Experts say there are specific things you can do to help protect your teenager(s) from accidental injuries and/or death in motor vehicle crashes.
- Set a good example by driving the way you’d like your teenager to drive, i.e., fastening seat belts, observing speed limits and other traffic signs, including full stops at all stop signs. Your kids have learned from your example their entire lives and they will learn your driving habits.
- Practice often and ride beside your teenagers, even after they get their license to see how they are progressing and to offer advice.
- Make driving a privilege that your teenager must earn by illustrating their ability to handle the responsibility that comes with driving.
- Sign an agreement between parent and teen that defines all expectations regarding a teen’s driving privileges. An example can be downloaded on the Internet.
- Let other parents know how you feel about enforcing driving rules and determine what driving rules apply to their teenager(s). Enforcing rules can be difficult when friends’ parents do not enforce them. Make sure your child’s friends’ parents know where you stand on teen driver safety.
Diligently following the above suggestions can go a long way in protecting your Chicago teenager when they venture out to drive on the congested roadways that make up these United States. For a Chicago Personal Injury lawyer. click here