Teenage drivers present a risk of injury to other motorists in New York

Teenage drivers who engage in risky driving behavior such as speeding, distracted driving and impaired driving put other motorists at risk of injury.

The New York State Police recently reported that a 17-year-old driver in upstate New York was observed "huffing" from an aerosol can of Ultra-Duster while his car was parked off the road. After getting high, the teen proceeded to drive onto a highway where he soon crashed into a tree. After being released from the hospital, he was arrested. Less than three weeks later, Newsday reported that a 19-year-old driver will spend several years behind bars for a highway crash caused by a combination of "weed and speed." That accident caused a wreck on Southern State Parkway that killed four people. The teen driver admitted that he had smoked marijuana prior to driving.

The National Conference of State Legislatures observes that an estimated 12.6 million young people drive on our nation's highways. According to the NCSL, young drivers often engage in risky behaviors apt to cause motor vehicle accidents. For example, teenage drivers are two to three times more likely than older drivers to send a text or email while driving. Further, teens are more likely than older drivers to engage in speeding, driving under the influence, failing to yield the right of way and following other vehicles too closely. Each of these driving behaviors is reckless and puts innocent motorists, pedestrians and cyclists at significant risk for crashes that can cause severe personal injuries, fatalities and property damage.

The New York Department of Health finds that there are several factors that place teen drivers at high risk for causing a motor vehicle accident. First, due to their driving inexperience, teens are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations and less likely to recognize hazardous situations. In this regard, it is important to keep in mind that studies have found that the decisionmaking area of the brain is still developing during one's teenage years. Second, teenage drivers often take risks while driving due to stress, immaturity and peer pressure. Having youthful passengers in a car appears to increase risk-taking behavior. Third, some teens believe that they can use alcohol or drugs without impairment to their driving skills.

Setting the rules

The Department of Health concludes that if parents set strict rules for driving, teen drivers are less likely to drive unsafely and get into a car crash. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry advises that parents take the following steps to keep both their children and other motorists safe:

  • Never let young drivers have unrestricted driving privileges until they have sufficient driving experience.
  • Limit your teen's driving in adverse weather conditions such as snow, ice and rain.
  • Work out an understanding of when and where the teenager is permitted to drive the car.
  • Demand that teenage children refrain from cell phone use while driving.
  • Spell out what driving behavior will result in a loss of the teenager's driving privileges.
  • Never permit a teenager to drive if he or she appears tired or fatigued.

Seeking compensation

While teenage drivers do not have the maturity of a seasoned adult driver, there is no excuse for negligent driving behavior on New York's streets and highways. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a negligent teenage driver, contact a New York personal injury attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents. New Yorkers injured due to the negligence of a motorist have a right to seek compensation for their injuries. Do not be an uncompensated victim of a negligent driver.

Keywords: motor vehicle accident, teen drivers, New York