Passenger car accidents involving teenage drivers are a common occurrence here in the Baltimore area, as well as in Bowie, Rockville, Annapolis and the District. What many people tend to forget is that teen’s simply do not have the experience and (some may say) wisdom that comes with age, or at least many years behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. As Maryland auto accident and personal injury lawyers, I and my staff know how easily anyone can be hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle/scooter crash, which is why we advise caution whenever driving in dense traffic or through busy parts of town.
Here in the United States, automobile collisions are the most common kind of fatal accidents that take the lives of thousands of teens every year. Representing about a third of all deaths among teenagers, traffic wrecks have been named by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) as one of the greatest caused of teen fatalities; citing, in the past, roadway crashes as the killer of about eight young people (aged 16 to 19 years) every single day, while injuring more than three-quarters of a million teenagers annually.
Since driving-age teens have the highest traffic accident rate of any age group, we are never that surprised when we hear of a bad accident — whether a serious injury collision or a fatal wreck — that has involved at least one young driver. But, sadly, even though our law firm knows that teenagers account for a percentage of fatal accidents, it doesn’t change the fact that a family who has lost a child has a long road ahead of it in terms of coping with that loss.
Experience, or lack thereof, is one of the major factors in teenage-related auto accidents. Some of the mistakes that young, inexperienced drivers tend to make include following too closely, a predilection for excessive speed, reduced awareness of potentially dangerous traffic situations and being more easily distracted, among others. Drinking and driving can also be a contributing factor, depending on the individual’s particular situation.
All of this comes to mind when reading stories in the news about young people who are hurt or killed while traveling in a car. Whatever the cause, the tragedy of a fatal automobile crash that takes the life of a young person who hasn’t had a chance to fully experience their life is heartrending to say the least. Not long ago, we ran across a news article that discussed at length the problem of teen driving accidents. According to that piece, ADEPT Driver is a company that has created what they call the “teenSMART crash reduction program.”
Dr. Richard Harkness, the CEO of ADEPT Driver, stated in a press release that his firm created teenSMART to help reduce the odds that families of teens would be less likely to face the heartbreak caused by teen-driver-related traffic accidents. In an effort to make a dent in the high percentage of teenage fatalities and injuries following car crashes, teenSMART apparently helps to increase driver safety and reduces crash rates and moving violations. The system appears to be effective, as some auto accident insurance companies offer discounts for teenSMART drivers.
The insurers that recognize the ADPET Driver program include Allstate, Liberty Mutual, MAPFRE and American Commerce. These companies reportedly offer significant premium discounts to families whose driving-age teens have competed the teenSMART program. The company utilized what it refers to as a medical model approach to identifying and diagnosing the major reasons for teen-related roadway collisions. They used a team of physicians and behavioral scientists to identify the main causes, including under-developed skills such as:
— Visual awareness
— Hazard detection
— Risk assessment
— Space management
Based on the news article, the creators of the teenSMART program addressed these skill deficiencies and other factors to create a realistic and challenging computer-based driving simulator that helps teenage drivers improve their driving skills and avoid risk while operating their car in traffic. The program is apparently one of the most tested crash reduction programs available. Based on the news item that we found, the creators feel their program has a measurable effect on decreasing roadway accidents, with an attendant decrease in injuries and deaths. According to the news report, insurance claims among families whose teenage drivers followed the teenSMART program were reduced by 25 percent to as much as 40 percent.
ADEPT Driver Observes National Teen Driver Safety Week, Marketwatch.com, October 15, 2012