Tennessee parents all across the state both dread and look forward to their teenagers being able to get a driver’s license. It’s a sign of independence and often seen as a rite of passage. On the other hand, it marks a time when parents can no longer protect their children from the hazards of driving.

In 2015, 99,000 injuries and 1,972 deaths occurred with a teenager at the wheel of a car. The fact is that the inexperience of a teenage driver does put him or her at greater risk of being involved in an accident, but that isn’t the only hazard a teen faces when behind the wheel.

Other risk factors besides inexperience

Just as adults must follow certain rules of the road, so must teenagers. At the same time, they are just as susceptible to making mistakes while driving as adults with more experience. They face the same risk factors as adults do behind the wheel, which include the following:

  • Teens often engage in risky driving behaviors when they have at least one passenger. In fact, the risk of an accident increases two-and-a-half times with just one other person in the vehicle versus being the vehicle’s only occupant.
  • Teens tend to get more distracted in general, but when behind the wheel, it can be deadly. The risk of a crash increases an astounding 23 times when a teen texts and drives. The risk increases six times when dialing. Traditional distractions such as eating, drinking or changing the radio station also increase their risk.
  • Driving above the posted speed limit contributed to approximately 29 percent of the fatal crashes involving teens in 2015. Speeding on dry roads can be dangerous enough, but during inclement weather or in the face of other hazardous road conditions, doing so invites an accident to occur.
  • Just because a teen isn’t legally able to drink does not mean that it doesn’t happen. It does mean that a teenager could end up driving after drinking. This provides the same dangers as it does for adults who engage in this dangerous behavior.
  • Teenagers can also experience sleep deprivation and fatigue. This qualifies as risky behavior while driving as well. If a teen fails to get adequate sleep, getting behind the wheel may be a mistake.

Parents can warn their teens about engaging in these and other risky behaviors while driving, but headstrong teens may dismiss those concerns as coming from an overprotective parent.

What happens if you are in an accident caused by a teenage driver?

If the driver of a vehicle that struck yours was a teenager, and possibly a minor, that does not mean that you have no avenue for pursuing compensation for the injuries you suffered. If you find yourself in this situation, you may benefit from knowing your rights and understanding your legal options regarding how to proceed.