Abels & Annes

Talking safe driving with your teenager, reducing vehicle access, can reduce risk of serious car accident

Setting clear driving safety rules for your teenage driver and not giving them their own vehicle can reduce the chances of your child being involved in a serious or fatal car accident.

Those findings were the result of two studies funded by State Farm Insurance Co. and conducted by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The Chicago car accident lawyers and child injury attorneys at Abels & Annes urge parents to talk frequently with their children about driving safety. Automobile accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 19, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

According to the Associated Press, results of the most recent studies, released Friday and published in the October issue of Pediatrics, show talking frequently with your teenager about driving safety and not allowing teenagers free access to their own vehicle can help prevent some of the 5,000 teenage road fatalities each year.

One in every 7 fatal accidents in the United States involves a teenager and fatal traffic accidents account for 40 percent of all teenage deaths. Another 250,000 teenagers are seriously injured each year in automobile accidents.

“With teen drivers, you have to recognize that it’s a public health issue,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weiss, a Phoenix pediatrician who co-wrote an American Academy of Pediatrics report on teen drivers.

The research is based on a nationally representative survey of more than 5,500 teens in grades nine through 11.

More than 2,000 students who reported driving on their own were the focus of one study; 70 percent said they had their own cars or were the main drivers of cars they used.

Dr. Flaura Koplin Winston, the lead researcher in one of the studies, said it’s alarming that so many kids have their own cars or feel that they have free use of one. She said that freedom can lead to “a sense of entitlement about driving” that may make them less cautious.

Among these drivers, 1 in 4 had been involved in crashes, versus just 1 in 10 of teens who shared access to a vehicle.

Kids who said their parents set clear driving rules and monitored their whereabouts had half as many crashes and better driving habits. These teens were 71 percent less likely to drink and drive and 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving than kids with parents who were uninvolved in their driving habits.

Dr. Niranjan Karnik, a University of Chicago specialist in adolescent mental health, said the research underscores the importance of active parenting and graduated licensing laws for teens.

The AAA Foundation has resources for safe teen driving, which can be accessed at www.teendriving.com.

The Chicago car accident attorneys recently wrote about Illinois’ Operation Teen Safe Driving, which also offers resources for teenagers and their parents.


If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious car accident, the personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.