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Teen Driver Deaths Increase Dramatically in Past Several Years

Car wrecks are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. The problem has continued to grow in the past several years. According to the Insurance Industry for Highway Safety (IIHS), 2,767 teenagers died in motor vehicle wrecks in 2020, a 15% increase from the previous year.

The number of teen roadway deaths increased again in 2021, when 3,058 teenagers were killed in motor vehicle wrecks, a 10% increase from the previous year and the first year more than 3,000 teenagers died in car wrecks in over a decade. Over a two-year period from 2019 through 2021, teen driver deaths on America’s roadways increased a staggering 28%.

These deaths are tragic because they take the lives of young people far too soon and leave behind devastated families. They are also tragic because most of these wrecks are preventable. Most teen driver crashes are due to three “critical errors:” (1) lack of scanning and awareness, (2) speeding, and (3) distractions. According to the IIHS, drivers 16-19 years old have crash rates nearly three times higher than drivers 20 and older per mile driven.

To reduce the lack of awareness, speeding, and distractions that lead to teenage driver deaths, the CDC recommends the following for all drivers, but especially for teenage drivers and their parents and guardians:

  • Buckle your seat belt every time. Seat belts reduce the risk of death or injury by more than one-half.
  • Do not drink any alcohol or use any drugs before getting behind the wheel. These activities are dangerous for any driver but are even more dangerous for young, inexperienced drivers.
  • Put all distractions aside. Examples include texting, talking on a cell phone (even hands-free), interacting with navigation systems, eating, and putting on makeup. Make sure your cell phone is off and away. Pull off to a safe location on the side of the road if you need to make a phone call. Even hands-free technology mentally distracts you from driving, and your full attention is needed to drive safely.
  • Take the time to familiarize yourself with the vehicle, especially if it is a vehicle you have never driven before. Know its features—like wiper blades, turn signals, dashboard dials, and hazard lights—before hitting the road so you are not struggling while driving.

For decades, Americans became used to safer roadways with improved car safety features, guardrails, and reduced drunk driving. In fact, overall motor vehicle deaths peaked in 1972 at 56,278 and decreased to a low of 37,757 deaths by 2015. However, since then, deaths have increased to over 45,000, with teenage drivers’ deaths making up far too large a portion of that increase.

At the Poppe Law Firm, we have represented numerous families devastated by severe injuries and death, including young drivers injured and killed in a car, semitruck, and motorcycle accident. We hope the young people in your life are always safe on the roadways. If, however, someone in your life ever suffers a serious injury or worse, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 502-895-3400. 

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