Posted On: September 25, 2009 by Steven J. Malman

Owning a Motor Vehicle Increases Chicago Car Accident Risk for Teenagers

According to two studies by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia researcher, teenagers who either own a car or are able to use one whenever they want have a greater chance of becoming involved in a car accident than teens who have shared use of a vehicle and/or whose parents monitor their kids’ driving activities and/or have specific rules about driving.

The studies’ research is based on a nationally representative survey of over 5,500 teens, grades 9-11. Students from 68 US high schools responded to the questionnaire, which was issued 2006.

Over 2,000 teens who said they drove unsupervised were at the center of the study. 70% reported that they either owned a vehicle or were the main driver of an auto. While 25% of “main” drivers had been involved in auto accidents, that figure was at 10% for teen drivers who had shared use of a car.

Flaura Koplin Winston, who is the study’s lead author, noted that when teenagers are given free use of or ownership of a car, they may develop a “sense of entitlement” that can make them less careful drivers. She said that teen drivers who shared driving access had a lower crash rate because having to ask for the car keys made it easier for parents to monitor their driving habits. Teens whose parents were more involved in their driving activities were 71% less likely to drive drunk and 30% less likely to talk on a cell phone while driving.

Considering that traffic accidents is the number one cause of teen fatalities, this information is good for parents to know. Just because a teen driver is now old enough to legally drive does not mean that he or she automatically has the skills, experience, knowledge, and judgment that is necessary for driving safely.

A teenager who causes a Chicago car crash risks not just his or her life but also the lives of others. In 2008, 4,400 teens were killed in US car crashes. In 2007, over 7,000 people died in US auto accidents involving teen drivers. Over 3,000 of the people who died were teenagers. Over 250,000 teen drivers sustained injuries.

Ken Ginsburg, associated pediatrics professor at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recommends that parents set “appropriate” rules and boundaries for teen drivers. His suggestions include establishing curfews, restricting driving during bad weather, and preventing their kids from driving passengers around for the first six months to one year.

The studies findings’ can be found in the October issue of Pediatrics. State Farm Insurance Co. funded the study.

Strict rules from parents lead to safer-driving teens, USA Today, September 25, 2009

Teens with own cars have more crashes, study finds, AP, September 25, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Teen Drivers, CDC

New Drivers, NHTSA

Please contact our Chicago car crash law firm to discuss your personal injury case.

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