Teen Drivers Understand Distracted Driving Risks But May Engage in Dangerous Behaviors Anyway


In Costa Mesa and throughout California, car accidents are a leading cause of death for teens.  Recently, a study conducted by State Farm and Harris Interactive took a close look at teen attitudes about driving and teen driving behaviors in order to develop a better understanding of their decisions on the road. An auto accident attorney in Costa Mesa shares the study’s findings.  


The study revealed that many teenagers believe they have a responsibility to themselves and their passengers. In fact, of the 655 teens interviewed in the survey, a total of 98 percent reported that they felt a personal sense of responsibility when they were driving.  An even higher number, 99 percent, said that they felt a sense of responsibility for their passengers. 


Despite the fact that teens acknowledged they were responsible for safety when behind the wheel, many young motorists who had a license or a permit reported that they felt helpless to prevent accidents and had no control over whether they would become involved in a car wreck.  A total of two out of every five licensed drivers reported having no control over their crash risk. 


“The large number of teens who believe that they have no control over their accident risk may help to explain why so many teenagers in Costa Mesa and statewide engage in practices that could result in auto accidents,” said the attorney.


For example, while only 6 percent of teens with a permit admitted to sending or reading a text while driving, almost half, 49 percent, of licensed teens said that they texted while driving. 


The fact that so many teens do not understand the role that they play in preventing car accidents is especially disturbing because the vast majority of teen wrecks do result from mistakes that young drivers make. In fact, prior research has demonstrated that as many as 75 percent of all teen car accidents occur as a result of driver error.  


Distracted driving is one of the big errors made by young people, with around 11 percent of all drivers under age 20 distracted at the time they are involved in a fatal wreck. However, distracted driving is not the only risky behavior teens engage in. Prior studies have also shown that teens are less likely to stop driving and rest when they are tired, and an Allstate Survey revealed that 55 percent of teens exceeded the speed limit by at least ten miles per hour.     


Unfortunately, many teens simply don’t realize these behaviors are dangerous, explained the Costa Mesa auto accident attorney. Teens are also more concerned about what other motorists are doing than they are about their own behaviors, with 80 percent of young people responding to the State Farm poll expressing a concern about what other motorists were doing. By contrast, only 55 percent of teens said that their own lack of driving experience might be a risk. 


Protecting Teen Drivers


Although the data on teen car accidents is troubling, the fact that so many teens believe they have a responsibility to themselves and their passengers offers hope. Teens who believe they are responsible for their own safety may be more inclined to listen when informed of driving risks and may be more inclined to alter their behavior if they are aware that it has an impact on their chances of becoming involved in a crash. 


Parents of young drivers, therefore, may be able to make a difference in protecting their kids from accidents by talking to their sons or daughters about driving dangers. There are a huge number of resources available for parents who wish to have a conversation with their teens about driver safety including:



When teens do make dangerous choices behind the wheel, passengers in their vehicle who are hurt could potentially take legal action, as could other motorists. An attorney can inform the victims of auto accidents of their rights and recourse through the civil justice system. 


Additional information on teen drivers, transportation safety, and the personal injury claims process is available to the public free of charge through our office.


If you would like to request a free book or article, or to discuss a civil case with an auto accident attorney in Costa Mesa, feel free to call 866-981-5596. 

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