Motor vehicle crashes represent the number one cause of injury-related deaths for teens in North Dakota. While teen drivers comprise only 5.5% of licensed drivers, they operated vehicles that were involved in 19% of crashes in 2021.
Nationwide, teen drivers are involved in 7.8% of all fatal traffic accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of death of Americans ages 15-20.
Researchers believe that inexperience is a major contributing factor to the frightening statistics for teen drivers. Young drivers tend to overestimate their abilities and underestimate hazards on the roads.
However, there are other important factors. These include intoxicated driving and a lower rate of seatbelt use.
Another major factor is distraction. Younger drivers often have boisterous friends in the car with them, and may be more likely than older drivers to be distracted by cellphones and other devices when they are alone in the car.
Efforts to improve safety
North Dakota follows the Graduated Licensing Program, which provides a three-step approach to granting teens full-license privileges. Adopted in all states, the GDL program has reduced crashes 10-30% nationwide, according to some sources.
In North Dakota, the GDL program applies only to drivers who get a permit before age 16. If they fulfill all the requirements under the program, they can get an intermediate license until they reach age 16.
The intermediate license carries some restrictions that standard driver’s license do not. A driver with an intermediate license cannot drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Cellphone use in the car is prohibited.
While teenagers present a high-risk demographic for motor vehicle accidents, even the most careful of us can be involved in a car accident. Attorneys who know the comprehensive impacts of collisions to drivers, passengers and families can offer guidance.