A new report from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance indicates that teen drivers are at significant risk for suffering a head injury as the result of a car accident.
The study looked at car accidents involving approximately 55,000 teen drivers and their passengers who were seriously injured in 2009 and 2010. According to the report, 30% of teens involved in serious car crashes will suffer a concussion, skull fracture or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Car accidents are the leading cause of TBI-related death among teens aged 15 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Due to the delicate nature of the brain and its limited ability to heal in every situation, a traumatic brain injury can cause long-term damage and potentially leave its victim permanently unable to function or care for themselves. A traumatic brain injury can have a devastating impact not only on the victim but also on their family members.
Between 2005 and 2010, teen driving deaths have declined approximately 46% from 2,399 to 1,305 fatalities per year. Fatalities among their passengers have also declined 41%, from 1,777 to 1,022 during this same period. According to State Farm, teen driving deaths tend to be lower in states that enforce comprehensive Graduated Driving Laws (GDL). These laws require teen drivers to complete at least 50 hours of adult-supervised driving practice under varied conditions prior to seeking a full driver’s license. These laws also limit teen passengers for the first year of licensed driving, place restrictions on unsupervised nighttime driving, prohibit cell phone use and require seat belt use for the driver and their passengers.
The authors of the CHOP/State Farm report recommend that states with higher teen traffic fatality rates change their licensing policies to reflect the guidelines that exist under Graduated Driving Laws. They also suggest implementing programs which are designed to increase seat belt use, educate teens about the dangers of distracted driving and increase overall driving skill in an effort to help keep teens safe while traveling the roadways.
Parents should also educate their teens about the dangers of driving and set a good example by avoiding reckless or careless behavior while behind the wheel. When a car accident occurs, it’s important to consult an experienced car accident attorney to better understand your legal rights.