Many things can cause a car accident, including driver inexperience. How does inexperience pose a risk not only to the new driver but also to others on the road? Below we discuss this issue in more detail.
The Risks Involved With Inexperience
When it comes to driving, the old adage “practice makes perfect” rings true. Many aspects of driving can only be learned through practice. As noted by the National Safety Council, three out of four crashes involving teen drivers are the result of driver inexperience.
In Nebraska, drivers ages 15 to 24 are in the plurality of all crashes. Those ages 25 to 34 are in the plurality of all fatal crashes.
Some of the most common errors cited in these crashes include the following:
- Failure to scan the roadway for other vehicles and obstacles
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Distractions inside or outside of the vehicle
Of these errors, research has revealed that distraction is a contributing factor in 58 percent of teen crashes. Young drivers often struggle to keep their focus on the roadway as well as to complete newly-learned driving tasks in the face of distractions. Some common distractions that can spell danger for inexperienced drivers are:
- Other passengers
- Cell phone use
- Looking at something inside the vehicle
- Looking at something outside the vehicle
- Singing or listening to music
- Reaching for an object
The majority of crashes involving teens occur during the nighttime hours, and inexperience only increases the danger of nighttime driving. According to information from Nebraska’s Parent’s Supervised Driving Program, teen drivers do not have the experience to anticipate and react to potential hazards when visibility is reduced. Combined with the general lack of parental supervision that comes with teenage night driving, other teens in the car, and higher speeds, all of which increase the likelihood of an accident, and teen nighttime driving proves to be considerably dangerous.
Statistics Involving Driver Inexperience and Car Accidents
According to 2016 statistics compiled by the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association:
- Car accidents are the leading cause of death among 16- to 24-year-olds, accounting for 48.5 percent of deaths. The second-most leading cause of death in this age group is homicide, which accounts for 15.2 percent of total deaths.
- Nationwide, 43 percent of first-year drivers and 37 percent of second-year drivers are involved in car crashes.
- Individuals aged 15 to 20 make up 6.7 percent of the country’s driving population. However, they are involved in 20 percent of all crashes and account for 14 percent of motor vehicle deaths.
- Two-thirds of teenagers killed in car accidents are males. 56 percent 16- to 19-year-olds killed in car accidents were driving at the time of their deaths.
- More than half of the teenage passengers who were killed in auto accidents were traveling in a car that was driven by another teenager.
- 46 percent of the fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2016 involving drivers aged 16 to 19 were single-vehicle collisions.
- The risk of teens ages 16 to 17 being killed in a crash increases with each additional teenage passenger in the vehicle. This risk increases 44 percent with one passenger, doubles with two passengers, and quadruples with three or more passengers.
- In 2016, driver inexperience was the listed cause of 26 percent of all injury crashes involving teen drivers. It accounted for 34 percent of crashes that only involved property damage.
- In the past decade, more than 68,000 U.S. teens died in car crashes.
Nebraska’s Laws for New Drivers
In an attempt to make driving safer for new drivers, Nebraska implemented a Graduated Driver’s Licensing program that applies to all drivers aged 14 to 17. Some of the provisions of this program include:
- New drivers are required to hold a Provisional Operator’s Permit (POP) for one year before getting a standard driver’s license.
- In addition to the POP, Nebraska has other permits for drivers as they learn the skills needed to safely operate a motor vehicle. These permits include the School Learner’s Permit (SLP), which allows drivers to practice driving while supervised by a licensed driver over the age of 21; the School Permit (SCP), which allows a young driver to drive unsupervised to and from school and between school enrollments; Learner’s Permit (LPD), which allows a driver to practice for the POP, Operator’s Class, or Motorcycle Class license with supervision by a licensed driver over the age of 21.
- To obtain a School Permit or POP, a driver under the age of 18 is required to log no less than 50 hours of supervised driving with a licensed driver over the age of 21. At least 10 of those hours must be completed between sunset and sunrise.
- POP holders are only allowed to drive one passenger under the age of 19 at a time, excluding family members.
- The holder of a POP is not permitted to use any type of wireless interactive device, such as a cell phone, while driving.
- POP holders are prohibited from driving between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. unless they’re driving to or from a school activity or work.
- There is a zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs while under the age of 21. First-time violators of this rule will lose their license or permit for thirty days, and young drivers are subject to the same laws regarding DUI as those older than 21.
When Inexperience Equals Liability, Call Our Nebraska Car Accident Attorneys
Lack of practice and still-developing decision-making skills increase the risk of car accidents for young and inexperienced drivers. Overconfidence, ignorance on the dangers of reckless driving, over-correction, misjudgments, and untrained observational skills only add to this danger. While these issues may be understandable, given the driver’s age and lack of practice, they can also be caused by reckless and negligent behavior, which can open the driver up to legal liability for damages.
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by an inexperienced driver, you should seek compensation to cover your medical bills, lost time from work, property damage, and pain and suffering. Our experienced car accident attorneys can help. Contact the Robert Pahlke Law Group online or by calling (308) 633-4444 to schedule your free consultation and case review.