Report on Campus Driving: Statistics of the Damage Done by Careless Teenager Drivers

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 It has been statistically proven that teens are the most dangerous and wreck less drivers in the country. In 2016, in the United States, over 2000 adolescents between 16 and 19 died and approximately 300,000 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in vehicle crashes. This means that six adolescents between 16 and 19 died each day due to injuries caused in vehicle crashes. Also, in 2016, young people aged 15 to 19 represented 6.9% of the population of the United States. However, they were responsible for more than 13 billion dollars of the total costs of vehicle crash injuries. Although there are many cases where a teen’s life has been taken away, car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. There have been many protocols taken to stop teens from being harmed in car crashes, though none have seemed to work. Things such as extra classes and more laws to keep all drivers on the road safe. Fortunately, those crashes are preventable and there are proven effective strategies that can improve the safety of young drivers on the streets.

Teenagers are more likely to underestimate or fail to recognize dangerous situations, when compared to older drivers. They are less experienced behind the wheel and will tend to make the worse decision in most situations. This comes from a tendency of being impatient, or trying to please fellow passengers in the vehicle. Teenagers are also more likely to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes, compared to adults. One writer stated, “Driving is most commonly seen as a privilege that is given to teenagers at eight-teen but at this age you will most likely be out of high school and ready to start your life at college. At six-teen there are many important things that students have to deal with, such as; driving to school, going to work, running errands, or having to deal with a family emergency.

A car always comes in handy and make’s daily tasks easier for the entire family. Everyone was a teenager at one point in their lives and they also wanted to drive at an early age” (Gaines). The convenience of a car has left teenagers complacent and makes them believe that they are more entitled, rather than privileged. Likewise, adolescents are more likely to drive at excessive speed and leave a shorter distance between the front of the vehicle and the vehicle ahead, compared to older drivers. Adults are not too different when comparing the driving skills of teenagers and themselves. There has been many cases where an adult has had the mentality of a teenager and has made a wreck less mistake, potentially costing them their life. In 2016, 49% of teenage deaths in vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight, and 53% occurred on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This is commonly due to teens driving faster and more dangerously since there are less vehicles on the road.

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When compared to other age groups, teenagers have seat belt wear rates that are among the lowest. In 2017, only 59% of high school students reported that they always wore a seatbelt when traveling in a vehicle driven by another. Of the adolescents (aged 16 to 19) who died in vehicle crashes in 2016, approximately 48% were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Studies show that seat belts reduce by approximately half serious injuries and deaths related to vehicle crashes. As said by campus police, “It has become a trend to not wear seatbelts to show their friends that they are not scared of their own driving, or that wearing a seatbelt is not what they considered cool. Although there have been many wrecks in not only the rest of the country, but in the campus alone, teens still refuse to wear it to preserve their popularity status.” (James). Not only do teenagers like to speed when they drive, but they do so while not wearing their seatbelts. It is mostly common to find teens with their seatbelts absent when they believe that they do not need them since their destination is not too far. This kind of mentality is the main cause of many accidents and collisions. Teenagers would rather risk their lives and well-being than their pride and ego.

If calculated with respect to all levels of blood alcohol concentration (CAS), the risk of being involved in a vehicle crash is higher for adolescents than for drivers of older ages. Among male drivers aged 15 to 20 who were involved in fatal crashes in 2016, 32% were speeding at the time of the crash and 21% had been drinking alcoholic beverages. In the 2017 National Survey on Risk Behavior in Young People, 16.5% of adolescents reported that, during the previous month, they had traveled with a driver who had been drinking alcoholic beverages. Among the students who drove, 5.5% reported that, during the same period of one month, they had driven after having consumed alcoholic beverages. In 2016, 58% of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who died in vehicle crashes after consuming alcoholic beverages and driving, were not wearing a seat belt. Mrs. Shelby, who works at the local DMV, reported that, “Teens under the age of 21, who are unsupervised, tend to do things that they are not at the age to do yet.

Things such as drinking and/or driving. Some teenagers partake in the activities that their friends are doing so they are not left out and end up causing a lot of trouble. Though there are teens who make terrible decisions, they at least have the responsibility to have a designated driver. Sadly, these designated drivers are typically ones who are not experienced with driving enough to be put in such a predicament.” (Shelby). It is recommended to apply laws on the minimum age to consume alcohol and 'zero tolerance' of alcohol in the blood for drivers under 21 years. This is to ensure that there is absolutely no excuse when teens are driving. Any signs of bad driving will simply be because of the driver’s incapability of driving rather being under the influence of any alcohol.

Knowing how to drive is a complex skill and must be practiced to learn it well. The lack of experience and risky behaviors of adolescents with respect to driving place them at greater risk of having vehicle crashes. The need to develop skills and supervise new drivers is the basis of restricted driver's license programs, which exist in all states of the United States, and in Washington, D.C. GDL programs provide longer periods of practice, limits for drivers who have just received their license to drive in highly risky conditions and require greater parental involvement in the process through which their teenagers learn to drive.

Studies indicate that broader GDL programs are associated with reductions between 2617 and 41% in fatal crashes, and between 1619 and 22% in total crashes among 16-year-old drivers. When parents know their state's GDL laws, they can help make those laws apply and, in effect, help keep their teenagers safe.

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