Teen Car Accidents in Georgia: Unveiling the Statistics and Trends
July 11, 2023
For teenagers, a driver’s license represents freedom. Being able to go wherever they want, whenever they want without having to rely on someone else is something they look forward to. It’s why getting a driver’s license is considered a rite of passage that marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Unfortunately, many teen drivers fail to understand the responsibility that comes with a driver’s license. Due to their lack of driving experience and impulsive, thrill-seeking nature, teen drivers tend to be more reckless than drivers from any other age group. It is one of the reasons why they are overrepresented in car accidents in Georgia.
Teen Car Accidents in Georgia – A Look at the Numbers
- Car accidents are the second leading cause of death among teenagers in Georgia.
- Between 2012 and 2021, a total of 1,771 teen drivers were involved in fatal car accidents in Georgia. In 2012, 154 teen drivers were involved in fatal accidents, which was the lowest number during the ten-year period. In 2021, 215 teen drivers were involved in fatal accidents, which was the highest number during the same period.
- Teen drivers are involved in more fatal car accidents compared to drivers from any other age group in Georgia. In 2020, teen drivers accounted for 13% of all fatal car accidents in the state.
- For every mile driven, the risk of fatal accidents is three times higher among teen drivers compared to drivers from other age groups.
- Male teen drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than their female counterparts.
- The highest number of teen car accidents is reported during the summer break – between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is considered the deadliest time for teen drivers as they are more likely to drive around at odd hours and engage in risky behaviors.
- On average, 25 fatal accidents involving teen drivers are reported during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day – resulting in at least 28 deaths.
- The possibility of a teen driver engaging in risky behaviors like speeding increases significantly if the occupants of the vehicle are their peers from the same age group. The more occupants from the same age group, the more likely the driver is to engage in dangerous behavior.
- Lack of seatbelt use is one of the most important reasons why teen drivers are disproportionately represented in fatal accidents.
Common Causes of Teen Car Accidents in Georgia
Speeding is one of the biggest contributing factors to teen car accidents in Georgia. Data shows that teen drivers are more likely to speed compared to drivers from other age groups. As a result, they are involved in more speeding-related crashes than drivers from any other age group.
According to an experienced personal injury attorney, three factors can be attributed to the prevalence of speeding-related accidents involving teen drivers.
- The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for impulse control, judgment, and decision-making, is not fully developed in teenagers, which causes them to behave in an impulsive, unrestrained manner. It is one of the main reasons why they tend to speed and engage in other risky behaviors compared to adults.
- Lack of sufficient driving experience makes it difficult for teen drivers to assess and understand the risks involved in speeding.
- Many teens observe and emulate the driving behavior of their parents and other adults in the family. If they see adults speed, the teen is also likely to speed.
What makes speeding particularly dangerous for teen drivers is that they lack the skill to recognize and react to dangerous situations. As a result, they are less likely to take evasive actions like adults do in the event of an emergency, which can significantly increase the risk of a deadly crash.
Distracted driving is endemic among teen drivers in Georgia. In 2020, 10% of all fatal crashes in the state were caused by distracted teen drivers. According to seasoned injury attorneys, distractions can be broadly classified into three types – visual, manual, and cognitive.
- Visual distractions include cell phones, tablets, and other handheld devices that can cause the driver to take their eyes off the road. Apart from this, pamphlets, books, signs and billboards on the road, and other objects can also be considered visual distractions.
- Manual distractions include activities that cause the driver to take their hands off the wheel while driving. Common examples are eating, applying makeup, and bending down to pick something off the floorboard.
- Cognitive distractions are distractions that occupy your mind and divert your focus away from driving. Examples of cognitive distractions include daydreaming, thinking about work or school, making plans for the day, and chatting or arguing with others.
Data shows that cell phone use is the single biggest cause of distracted driving among teenagers in Georgia. Texting while driving, in particular, is highly prevalent among teenagers, which is one of the reasons why they are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents.
Alcohol use among teenagers is a serious problem in Georgia. According to the data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Georgia ranks second on the list of states with a serious underage drinking problem.
Due to their thrill-seeking nature, teenagers often tend to be reckless while driving and engage in risky behaviors like tailgating, running red lights, and making rolling stops at intersections.
Lack of Driving Experience
Due to the lack of driving experience, teen drivers are prone to making errors that adult drivers are less likely to make. Misjudging the speed of other vehicles, misjudging the distance between vehicles, misjudging the actions of other drivers, failing to yield the right of way, and failing to check blind spots while making turns and changing lanes are some of the mistakes that teen drivers are more likely to make compared to experienced drivers.
Consequences of Teen Car Accidents
When a teen driver acts negligently or recklessly, it is often the other drivers and passengers who end up paying the price for it. Every year, hundreds of people are killed and thousands are injured as a result of teen car accidents.
One of the biggest problems with teen drivers is that they cannot be held directly liable for the accidents they cause, since they lack the financial means to compensate the victims. Fortunately, under Georgia’s Family Purpose Doctrine, parents can be held financially responsible for the negligence of their teenage children.
How Does Georgia’s Family Purpose Doctrine Work?
Georgia’s Family Purpose Doctrine is based on the concept of vicarious liability. Under the doctrine, the owner of a vehicle can be held liable for the negligent driving of a family member.
To hold a parent liable for their teenage son or daughter’s negligent driving under the Family Purpose Doctrine, the following elements need to be proved with help from dedicated car accident attorneys.
- The parent in question is the owner of the vehicle that was involved in the accident.
- The teen driver who caused the accident lives in the same household as the parent.
- The parent allowed the teen driver to use the vehicle for their pleasure, comfort, or convenience.
- At the time of the accident, the teen driver was driving the vehicle for a family purpose and had the permission of their parent(s) to use the vehicle.
- The parent had sufficient control over the vehicle to establish an agency relationship between themselves and the teen driver.
It should be noted that under the Family Purpose Doctrine, the liability for a car accident caused by a teen driver is not limited to the parents alone. In the absence of parents, an elder brother or sister (assuming they are adults) can be held liable for the negligent driving of their younger one as long as you can prove all the aforementioned elements.
An experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer can determine whether your claim meets the requirements under the Family Purpose Doctrine and take steps to recover the maximum amount of compensation possible from the liable parties.
Injured by a Teen Driver? Get an Experienced Georgia Teen Car Accident Lawyer on Your Side Today.
If you have been injured as a result of a teen driver’s negligence or recklessness, the experienced car accident attorney at The Pendergrass Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. Highly qualified and dedicated, our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in handling auto accident cases and have recovered more than $35 million in damages for our clients over the years.
Call us today at 404-445-5136 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our Georgia teen car accident lawyers. Please note our Peachtree Office and Stone Mountain Office locations for your reference.