Young Drivers and Passengers Face Serious Risks on the Roadways

Parents of teen drivers should take notice of new research that found accidents are more likely to happen when multiple young passengers are in a car. Our Chicago car accident lawyers urge parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of the road. These dangers are far too real according to the latest study, which indicates that the presence of just one passenger under the age of 21 increases the risk of an accident by about 40%. If three or more young people are in the car, the risk quadruples!

Some states are taking proactive steps to reduce the number of teen accidents. In 2008, Illinois implemented a graduated licensing system that allows the Department of Motor Vehicles additional time to monitor a young driver’s roadway conduct before he or she receives a full-fledged license. Rather than getting a permit and then a license straightaway, teen drivers must pass through three stages of licensing with tiered privileges. The system establishes strict requirements for drivers during the instruction permit stage. Passengers under the age of 20 are also limited, unless the passenger is a sibling, child, or step-child of the driver. These restrictions are relaxed somewhat as drivers reach the ages of 16 and 18.

AAA found that graduated licensing schemes are a positive step towards increased road safety for teen drivers. According to a recent report, graduated systems may have reduced accidents among teens nationwide by nearly 10% since 1996. Driving data from young Illinois drivers supports the observation that graduated systems reduce fatalities among young drivers. In 2007, young drivers made up 22.6% of all Illinois traffic fatalities. This number dropped to 20% in 2008, and down to 16% in 2009.

Research also points out that young drivers often take cues from their parents’ driving habits. A Consumer Reports survey indicates that at least 45% of teen drivers have witnessed their parents use a cell phone while driving. In Illinois, cell phone use is strictly prohibited unless the driver is using a hands-free device. Young drivers in the initial stages of the licensing system are entirely prohibited from cell phone use while driving. Still, at least 50% of teen drivers admit that they talked on the phone while driving and 30% texted while driving in the last month. This is concerning to our Chicago car crash attorneys because automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for youths.

A recent Chicago crash that killed four young mothers is a startling reminder of the need to be attentive behind the wheel. Although the young women ranged in age from 21-25, falling outside of the category of “teen drivers,” they are still a part of an at risk age group. The young women were out on the town celebrating a friend’s birthday when their vehicle struck a concrete pillar supporting the Green line tracks overhead. According to the Chicago Sun Times, witnesses said that the vehicle split in half. Three of the women were pronounced dead at the scene and the fourth died shortly after at the hospital. The cause of the wreck is unknown at this time.

Summertime is particularly dangerous for young drivers. Fatal teen traffic crashes jump from an average of 363 during colder winter months to 422 during warm weather months. If you or a loved one is involved in a serious car crash, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The law limits the amount of time you have to file a claim and secure compensation.

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