Law Offices of Ronald A. Ramos, P.C. Articles Fatal Teen Car Accidents Rise for First Time in a Decade

Fatal Teen Car Accidents Rise for First Time in a Decade

By Law Offices of Ronald A. Ramos, P.C.  Nov. 18, 2016 10:04p

Fatal car accidents caused by negligent teen drivers are on the rise for the first time in 10 years, according to the latest data from the AAA Auto Club and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of deadly crashes caused by teenage motorists climbed by 10 percent in 2015, the researchers reported. A significant number of these car accidents reportedly involved drivers who were speed, distracted by cell phones or paying more attention to their passengers than the road.

San Antonio car accidents have signaled similar trends. Last year, a 32-year-old man was parked on the shoulder of Loop 410 to check on a trailer he was pulling when a car driven by a teenage girl crossed two lanes of traffic and slammed into the rear of his trailer, pinning the victim. He later died in the hospital. Now, his family, including his widow and parents, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the girl and her parents, alleging distracted driving. They are also fighting to raise awareness of distracted driving car accidents, particularly among teens.

As the family's attorney put it, "Distracted driving is the new DWI. ... It's just as dangerous as driving while legally drunk." Not only that, but when combined with the inexperience of youth, it can be an especially disastrous combination. According to KSAT ABC-12, the family is now advocating for a statewide distracted driving ban in Texas that would be coined, "Bobby's Law," after the victim.

AAA reports teenagers were involved in 14,000 fatal car accidents over the course of the last five years. Approximately one-third of those involved drivers who were speeding. Another report from the Governors' Highway Safety Administration (based on figures from the NHTSA) revealed that the number of people killed in collisions with teen drivers spiked from 4,272 in 2014 to 4,689 last year.

It's well-established that teens are more likely to be involved in a deadly car accident than adults - 1.6 times more likely, according to GHSA.

These reports drive home the message that we still have a long way to go to reduce the number of fatal crashes involving teen motorists. In all 50 states, there is some type of three-stage licensing program that does lower the risk of teen car accidents by about 30 percent. For example in Texas, the Graduated Driver License Program, implemented in 2002, is intended to give new drivers a chance to improve their driving skills over time in lower-risk environments. So in Phase One, a driver under 18 has to maintain a valid learner license/ minor restricted driver license (if there is a hardship) for at least six months before they can move on to the next phase. With a learner license, drivers can only operate a vehicle with an over-21 driver in the front passenger seat. After six months, they graduate to a Phase Two provisional license, which still requires:

  • No more than one passenger under 21 (who is not a family member) in the car;
  • Restricted hours of operation - no driving from midnight to 5 a.m. unless it's for work, school or a medical emergency.
  • No use of a wireless communication device (including a hands-free device) - except in an emergency - for those drivers under 18.

Such provisions are certainly helpful, but they fail to address the reality that many new drivers don't get their license until they turn 18, at which point they aren't required to participate in the graduated license program. However, they still remain at high risk.

If you have been injured in a crash due to the negligence of a teen driver, there may be multiple avenues of compensation you can pursue.

Contact our experienced San Antonio car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Ronald A. Ramos, P.C.

Additional Resources:

Fatalities in teen crashes spike after steady decline, studies find, Oct. 12, 2016, By Bart Jansen, USA Today

More Blog Entries:

Texas Car Accident Lawsuit: Phone Company Failed to Curb Driver Distraction, Oct. 24, 2016, San Antonio Car Accidents Lawyer Blog

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