A great deal of media attention has been focused on the dangers of texting and driving among teenage drivers, but according to a recently released study of highway fatalities, this is not the single biggest threat. Instead, the biggest identifiable danger for teenage drivers is nighttime driving.
According to the study conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute, nighttime driving is more likely to result in death for teenagers than drinking, speeding or failing to wear a seatbelt. Researchers attribute this increased danger to fatigue and inexperience, both of which are aggravated by driving after dark.
The results of this study, however, do not necessarily contradict the general sentiment that texting while driving remains dangerous and pervasive among young drivers. As Bernie Fette, one of the study's authors, told the Washington Post, "we have a test to see whether someone's been drinking, but there's no test to see whether you've been on your cell phone."
Accordingly, the study could isolate factors like alcohol consumption and the presence of passengers who might pose a distraction, but not whether the driver was using a phone at the time of the crash. Federal data collected for U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood indicates that approximately 25 percent of all teenagers nationwide admit to texting while driving.
In discussing the results, researchers seem to simply assume that many of the teenagers driving at night were also using their cellphones. Fette refers to nighttime driving in combination with inexperience and cell phone usage as the "perfect storm."
One of the biggest challenges with these findings, though, is the lack of general awareness surrounding the dangers of nighttime driving. Although Fette claims more than 80 percent of teenagers identify drunk driving as a risk, only 3 percent recognize that driving at night is also a risk.
Understanding is undoubtedly critical to reducing risks; if teenagers are aware of the dangers of night driving it may help to encourage safer driving habits and greater caution. This knowledge will help all drivers and passengers to enjoy safer travel on Illinois roads.
Unfortunately, the inexperience and immaturity of teen drivers will still cause accidents. If you are the victim of an accident caused by a teen driver, it is important to gather all information possible; typically young drivers are carried on their parents' insurance. After receiving medical attention, preserve all evidence and promptly contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.