The beginning of the 2015-2016 school year brings the influx of the student population, increasing the traffic population on Tennessee’s roadways. The excitement and high spirits that often accompany the start of a new semester are oftentimes hampered, however, because with more drivers comes an unfortunate repercussion: an elevated number of vehicle accidents.
According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia, approximately 32,719 people lost their lives in vehicle crashes in the United States in 2013, and an estimated 1,591,000 were injured. Of those, 995 fatalities were in Tennessee. So far this year, an estimated 90,200 vehicle crashes have occurred in the state, with 393 being fatality accidents and approximately 22,470 being injury accidents.
Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Teens
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15-19 in the United States. In fact, approximately 20 percent of teenage deaths are related to car crashes. In 2013 alone, there were an estimated 2,600 teenage drivers who were involved in fatality accidents and approximately 130,000 received accident related injuries. That same year, the Governors’ Highway Safety Administration reported that Tennessee was number one in the nation (tied with Indiana) for the most vehicle accident fatalities involving teens.
The rate of fatality accidents per 100 miles traveled on Tennessee roadways is highest in the months surrounding a new school year. While many passenger vehicle accidents are clearly a result of inexperienced drivers, students and parents who are not familiar with the community are partly to blame as well. With National Teen Driver Safety Week quickly approaching, it is vital that drivers of all ages become educated about the causes of teen driver related accidents and take measures to prevent such alarming statistics. But what can be done?
Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Teens: Reducing the Risk
Although the majority of teens in Tennessee wear their seat belts and try to practice safe driving, inexperience, distractions and overconfidence cause many teen drivers to make critical errors that sometimes result in tragic consequences. Some of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents involving teens include:
- Cell Phone Use and Use of Other Electronics: An estimated 56 percent of all teenage drivers in the United States use their cell phones while driving. Not only do they call and text, but they often play video games and look at social media sites as well.
- Distractions from Other Passengers: The number of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving teen drivers increases with additional passengers. Becoming distracted by loud or overly energetic teens, talking to friends, and becoming influenced by peers to drive riskily are some of the reasons that driving with more passengers results in a higher risk.
- Inexperience: During the first 500 miles of a teenage driver’s drive time he or she is 10 times more likely to become involved in a car accident than an experienced adult. Lack of experience impairs a teen driver’s ability to react in unexpected situations or handle new types of driving experiences like observing the right of way, merging into oncoming traffic, or avoiding accidents caused by other drivers.
- Speeding: Almost 1/3 of accidents involving teenage drivers are due to driving too fast. Teen Driver Source reports that more than half of teens interviewed admitted to driving more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit on some occasions.
- Alcohol Use: Approximately 1/4 of motor vehicle accidents involving teenagers are related to alcohol use, and nearly 60 percent of fatality accidents involving teenagers are related to drunk driving. Consumption of alcohol impedes a driver’s reaction time and impairs judgement.
When a Teen Driving Accident Involves Injuries
No matter how prepared a teen driver may be, accidents sometimes occur, and unfortunately, many times those accidents involve serious injuries and sometimes fatality. In some cases, individuals in Tennessee who are involved in motor vehicle accidents are able to obtain adequate compensation for injuries, lost wages, medical bills and vehicle damage/ loss without the use of a personal injury lawyer in Nashville. Unfortunately, however, this is typically not the case.
Thankfully, experienced personal injury lawyers in Nashville are familiar with the laws regarding motor vehicle accidents in Tennesseeand how they could affect the outcome of a personal injury case. Some factors that can impact a claim include:
- Statute of Limitations: In Tennessee, an individual has the right to file a lawsuit for personal injuries suffered in a vehicle accident up to one year after the accident occurred, and when suing for property damages the individual has up to three years.
- Modified Comparative Fault: When an individual is deemed to be partly at fault for an accident, the modified comparative fault rule can have a significant impact on the amount of compensation that is able to be obtained. With this rule, the driver’s at fault percentage is deducted from the amount of compensation that would have been awarded.