The National Safety Council has chosen the month of May to highlight teens and young drivers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) records indicate that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and young adults.
According to the most recent data from the CDC, more than 2300 teenagers, age 16-19, were involved in automobile crashes that resulted in a death.
The CDC cites several risk factors that are completely within the control of the vehicle operator, including:
- Texting while driving
- Alcohol consumption
- Distracted driving
- Not wearing a seatbelt
In Nashville and surrounding areas, recent articles indicate that teen fatalities are on the rise. In fact, school officials have set up a task force to encourage conversation and the exchange of accurate information.
In late 2017, the county was stunned by the crash fatalities of five teens. Local school districts responded by “increasing awareness in our families about the importance of the conversation on safe driving,” said Mike Looney, director of Williamson County schools.
Brooklyn Bell and Emily Scott were Brentwood High school seniors last year. The teens led a campaign called ‘Be in the Zone, Get Off Your Phone,’ to encourage youths to leave their mobile devices out of reach while driving and make sure that there are no other distractions when they are behind the wheel.
Bell said that the spate of teen crashes made her more aware that “it could happen to anybody, at any time, in any situation.”
Most younger people – but particularly Generation Z – are far more attached to their mobile devices than previous generations. Bell said that her generation feels like they must be connected at all times, or they might miss something; “Your phone lights up and you go ‘oh my gosh, I have to see what it was.’”
Heaven can wait
Inexperienced drivers put everyone around them at risk. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied 50 families with teen drivers for a period of one year. The results of the study indicated that youth crash rates occur four times more often than those of experienced adult drivers in the same circumstances.
Texts from your friends will be there when you put your vehicle in park, a missed call can be returned – but the consequences of a fatal or catastrophic crash remain for a lifetime.
Condolences are not enough
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security reports that fatal teen crashes declined by nearly 50 percent in the past year, but there are still far too many young people involved in preventable crashes due to distracted driving.
The crash statistics from 2015 indicate that nearly 2500 Williamson County teens were involved in crashes – the 51 worst in the state of Tennessee.
It is beyond time for more education. Bill Boner teaches driver’s education at a local high school. Boner said that teens consider themselves to be invincible; “But they lack maturity and judgement in driving.” He added that he would like to see more students take driver’s education. Boner believes that the focus on safety would improve teen and youth driving.
Significant efforts by the National Safety Council to educate the community on the dangers posed by ‘road rookies’ or young and inexperienced drivers should not end in May. Adult-to-teenager and peer-to-peer messaging that focuses on safety and awareness should continue year-round.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an wreck with a young or inexperienced driver, please call the law offices of George R. Fusner Jr. immediately.
For more than 40 years, we have represented the interest of the injured. Our team has the skill and diverse experience to get you the justice and compensation that you deserve. Call 651-251-0005 to schedule a free consultation.
Law Office of George R. Fusner Jr.
424 Church Street, Suite 2000
Nashville, TN 37219