Key Points of This Article:
- According to University of Michigan researchers, distracted driving crashes now tally twice as high as drunk driving accidents across the state.
- Sixteen- and 17-year-old drivers have the highest crash rates of any age group, and Michigan drivers under age 21 are three times as likely to get in a crash that results in a fatality or serious injury.
- Michigan teen drivers have an increased risk of fatal crash by nearly 15% beginning Memorial Day weekend thru Labor Day. Each year, this is called the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ for young drivers.
- Parents who practice good driving behaviors in front of their children, including patience and minimizing distractions, can help reduce their crash risk once ready to be the ones behind the wheel.
Five Times Teen Drives Are More at Risk of Crashing Than Adults
Thousands of teenage drivers from communities all across Michigan will be getting behind the wheel for the first time this summer. And, if you’re their parent, it is common to feel both excited but also anxious for this considerable feat. But sadly, driving-related crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers, especially in the time that runs Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Road safety officials often refer to these months as the ‘100 Deadliest Days’, a time when fatal teen crash rates rise by nearly 20% due to an increase in driver alcohol and drug impairments, speeding, recklessness, and distracted driving.
When combined, a teen driver’s inexperience and immaturity make them especially at-risk in these five circumstances:
- At Night: Driving is more complicated and dangerous at night for everyone, but particularly for teenagers. Young drivers have less experience driving at night than during the day, and drowsiness and alcohol may be more of a factor at night. Teen drivers are about three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash at night than during the day.
- After Drinking Alcohol or Using Drugs: Young drivers’ inexperience with both driving and drinking means that they have a higher crash risk no matter how much alcohol they consume compared to older drivers.
- Driving or Riding with Friends: Teenage passengers can distract young drivers and encourage them to take risks, and adding even just one passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by 50%. Three or more passengers – the risk is nearly four times greater than when alone. Limiting passengers is essential.
- When Unbelted: Seat belts reduce the risk of injury or fatality in a crash, but teenage drivers and passengers have lower belt use rates than older drivers and passengers. Males and passengers have the lowest use rates. The latest numbers provided by the National Safety Council show that nearly half of all teen drivers killed in crashes were not properly wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
- When Using Cell Phones and Personal Technology Devices: All drivers are at higher risk when talking on their phone or texting; however, young drivers use cell phones more frequently to scan social media accounts, email, and text than older drivers. Teenagers also have more difficulty multi-tasking and do not understand the dangers of distracted driving.
Michigan has a graduated licensing system to help young drivers identify high-risk driving situations and learn how to become responsible motorists. Through this program, the law requires a parent or guardian to certify that a teen driver spends a minimum of 50 hours behind the wheel, including ten hours at night. Families are encouraged to review these five everyday situations where teen drivers are more likely to crash in Michigan’s Graduated Driver Licensing Guide. These risks prove especially true in the summer months when school is out, and teens are more often on the road.
Michigan’s Teen and Young Adult Drivers
In 2019, 509,380 licensed drivers ages 15-20 represented 7% of Michigan’s driving population. The drivers in this age group represented 10% percent of drivers in all crashes and almost 10% of drivers in fatal crashes. In addition, 9,302 teenagers and young adults were injured in motor vehicle crashes, representing 12% of all people injured in crashes.
Michigan communities with high teen driving crash rates include Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Sterling Heights, and Bloomfield Township in Oakland County. The most common types of teen-related crashes reported by Michigan State Police in 2019 involved left turns, rear-end events, running off the road, and shoulder/outside curb crashes. Young drivers also had a higher incidence of speeding, overturn, inability to stop in assured clear distance, a collision with a ditch, and hitting a tree.
Driving Is a Learned Activity That Takes Practice Led By Parents
When a parent chooses to become involved in their teen driver’s skill training, that time spent can help reduce collisions and minimize the risk of related crash fatalities for all road users. Michigan parents can significantly help their teen driver prepare by doing simple things like:
- Modeling their best driver behavior.
- They are practicing good driving with their teen.
- Always wearing a seat belt, obeying speed limits, and not allowing Smartphone use while driving, even when at a traffic light.
- They spend time reviewing articles like this with their teens and sharing safe teen driving resources with others.
If you are not currently working with your teen driver and playing one of the most critical roles to keeping everyone, including your child, now is the perfect opportunity to begin.
Injured in a Teen Driving or Distracted Driving Accident?
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident caused by the poor decisions of a reckless driver, you and your family may be entitled to compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses. And know we are sorry for your situation and that our team of car accident injury attorneys at Lee Steinberg Law Firm in Michigan are ready to help. Please call and speak to our motor vehicle accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) to schedule a free consultation.
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Source: Michigan’s Graduated Driver Licensing: A Guide for Parents. (2018). www.michigan.gov. Accessed May 5, 2021.