It’s a scene that happens all too often with teen drivers. Two people died when their vehicles crashed at a busy intersection in Brooklyn. The impact was so powerful it split one of the vehicles in half as it hit a nearby utility pole. A Nissan Maxima driven by 20-year-old Philbert Martin Williams struck a BMW as it was turning. Both Williams and his passenger, 18-year-old Christina Wipper, died as a result of the crash. The BMW’s driver and passenger were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Video showed the Maxima traveling faster than other cars when it struck the BMW. The intersection outside Kings Plaza has neighbors concerned about safety. They report that speeding is a real problem in that area.
Teen Drivers and Accidents
Inexperience and lack of regard for speed limits is often what causes young drivers to be involved in automobile accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2010, seven teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile, drivers under 20 are three times more likely to experience a fatal crash than drivers over 20.”
In 2010, male drivers between 15 and 20 years old involved in fatal crashes demonstrated risky behavior. Speed accounted for 39% of fatal crashes and 25% were attributed to drinking. Even more alarming, seat belt use is down. In 2011, only 54% of high school students stated that they wear a seat belt at all times.
Here are some startling factors that put teen drivers at greater risk due to their inexperience behind the wheel of a vehicle:
- Teens are more likely to underestimate dangerous situation and not recognize hazardous situations.
- Driver training classes cram a lot of information in a short amount of time. Practicing with an adult on the road teaches real experience.
- Teens (particularly males) speed and allow shorter headways.
- The distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next is a headway.
- Half of the teens that died from motor vehicle crashes in 2010 did so between 3 p.m. and midnight.
- 55% of the fatalities occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
The Eight Danger Zones
The Eight Danger Zones addressed by the CDC include:
- driver inexperience,
- driving with teen passengers,
- nighttime driving,
- not using seatbelts,
- distracted driving,
- drowsy driving,
- reckless driving, and
- impaired driving.
Parents can do their part by prohibiting driving during high-risk times of the day, enforcing the rules of the road, wearing a seat belt, and informing other parents of the dangers of distracted driving.
As a side note, keeping cell phones turned off until arriving at a destination prevents accidents from occurring. According to Distraction.gov, “A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. Twenty percent of teens and ten percent of parents admit that they have text conversations while driving.” Friends and family members can wait to receive a text from a teen until he or she is free and safe to message them.
Teens become safer drivers with time. Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) programs help reduce 38% and 40% of all fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-old drivers according to the CDC. Rather than give a new driver full licensure upon passing written and driving tests, GDL systems delay full licensure until teens have proven that they demonstrate low-risk driving behavior.
About the Author:
Joe Macaluso is a personal injury lawyer practicing at the Bronx law firm of Macaluso & Fafinski, P.C. A graduate of Brooklyn Law School, Mr. Macaluso has been in private practice since 1990 with an exclusive focus on personal injury and medical malpractice. A member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, he has served on the Legislative Committee of this organization and is also a member of the Bronx County Bar Association and has served on the Board of Directors of Bronx Legal Services.