Recently in Teen Drivers Category

March 14, 2013

Tennessee Teen Car Accident Fatalities Highest in the Nation

Figures recently released by the Governors' Highway Safety Association indicate that Tennessee is No. 1 in the country (tied with Indiana) for the most teen car accident fatalities. objectsinthemirrorseemfar.jpg

Our Knoxville car accident lawyers know that this is a distinction desired by no one. More must be done to curb this troubling rise, though it's worth noting the same pattern was recorded nationwide. Overall in the U.S., teen traffic fatalities rose from 201 in the first six months of 2011 to 240 in the first six months of 2012. That's a nearly 20 percent increase.

In Tennessee, we reported nearly three times as many fatalities, from six teen fatalities in the first six months of 2011 to 16 in the first six months of last year. In all, the teen fatality numbers increased in 25 states, saw a decrease in 17 states and saw no change at all in eight states. Of those that increased, six states - including Tennessee - did so by more than five deaths, which is statistically significant.

This represents a shift in the trend we have seen recent years. Officials had hoped that graduated driver's license programs, bans on behind-the-wheel texting and cell phone use for teens, and awareness initiatives were working to turn the tide. But it doesn't appear to be enough, as ever-evolving technology means that distractions remain a top problem for teens behind the wheel. Additionally, the report indicates, far too many 16-and-17-year-old drivers and passengers aren't wearing their seat belts.

We may also have the economy to blame for some of it. Improvements mean that more teens have access to jobs, which means spare cash which translates to gas money. More teens are on the road when the economy is growing.

The number of fatalities involving 16-year-old drivers compared to 17-year-old drivers was about the same. The report indicated that in the first half of 2011, there were 107 16-year-old driver fatalities, compared to 116 involving 17-year-old drivers. In the first half of 2012, there were 86 fatalities involving 16-year-old drivers, versus 133 involving 17-year-old drivers.

More definitive data will show annual trends and is expected to be released later this year.

Jacqueline Gillan, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, has been quoted as saying that the results of this study should be a strong motivator for governors and state legislators to push and approve stricter teen driving laws.

It appears that such measures do actually make a difference. In 2000, there were more than 430 drivers age 16 who were killed that year. That figure had been slashed to less than 175 by 2011. Same thing with 17-year-old drivers, of whom about 565 died in traffic crashes in 2000, compared to 250 total in 2011.

While legislators have an important role in this, parents do too. Set a good example for your teen driver by obeying all local driving laws and refraining from cell phone use or texting while you're driving. Spend time with your child - up to 100 hours in the car, with your teen behind the wheel - teaching him or her how to drive. Give him constructive critiques and teach him to keep his temper in check. Set and stick to consequences for bad behind-the-wheel behavior.

Continue reading "Tennessee Teen Car Accident Fatalities Highest in the Nation" »

September 14, 2012

Tennessee ATV Safety: Fatal Campbell County Accident Highlights Autumn Risks

A teenager from Campbell County was recently killed in an ATV accident. The 17-year-old LaFollette youth was thrown off of his ATV while riding along Doaks Creek Road. He was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.
mIJhKSU.jpg
The driver of the ATV, a 16-year-old Speedwell teen, was heading eastbound on that roadway when he tried to make a U-turn. That's when his passenger fell off of the vehicle, according to KnoxNews.

Our Knoxville accident lawyers understand that fall in Tennessee is prime time for enjoying the outdoors, and that includes riding four-wheelers and all-terrain vehicles. Please keep safety your top priority. There were close to 320 people who were killed in ATV accidents in the U.S. in 2010. Another 120,000 people were injured in these accidents. In Tennessee, more than 430 people died in ATV accidents from 1982 to 2010. About 100 of these fatalities were of child riders who were under the age of 16-years-old.

Tennessee State ATV Laws:

-Both riders and passengers who ride on three-wheeled ATVs are required to ride in specific state park riding areas.

- All riders must wear helmets and eye protection at all times.

- All four-wheeled ATVs are not allowed in any state parks.

- ATVs are not allowed to be driven on the state's highways, except to cross the road.

- Each ATV is required to be titled with the owner receiving an identification device that shall be placed on the ATV.

Remember that manufacturers build different size ATVs for use by different age groups. You should always make sure that you're driving an ATV that is designed for your size and experience level. You should also never let children ride an ATV without adult supervision.

Nationwide, children under the age of 16 account for close to 30 percent of all ATV accident fatalities. Over the last 10 years, the number of children killed in off-road vehicle accidents has increased by more than 85 percent.

These are costly accidents, too! According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), medical treatment for riders under the age of 16 total nearly $3 million each year.

Tips for ATV Riding:

- Consider taking a hands-on training course.

- Always wear your protective gear. Wear gloves, a helmet, long pants, goggles, boots, long-sleeved clothing and proper footwear.

- Never drive your ATV on a paved road. ATVs are difficult to handle on paved roadways. This also makes collisions with cars more likely.

- Never drive an ATV with a passenger. Most ATVs are only designed to carry one person.

- Never allow children to drive or ride without an adult. Kids who are under 16 who ride on an adult ATV are about twice as likely to be injured as those riding on a youth ATV.

- Never drive an ATV under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Continue reading "Tennessee ATV Safety: Fatal Campbell County Accident Highlights Autumn Risks" »

January 17, 2012

Advocacy Group and Local Teen Fight for Safer Roads to Reduce Risks of Car Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere

According to a recent report, "The 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws," Tennessee is one of the country's 18 safest states. Still, the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal that there were more than 1,030 traffic accident fatalities here in 2010. The 2010 statistics also illustrate an increase from the 986 who were killed in 2010. While our roadways may have been voted as some of the safest in the country, the number of roadway fatalities is in fact increasing.
mhGxhFw.jpg
According to KnoxNews, a teenage driver in the state is working to spread the word about the importance of safe driving habits to avoid car accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere. Joe Polakiewicz, the new advocate, is choosing to speak up about the dangers teens face on our roadways. The effort for safer roads came after Polakiewicz's October 2010 traffic accident in which he reached down in his vehicle while traveling along Big Springs Road. He unknowingly swerved off of the road, over-corrected his vehicle, spun out and slammed into a tree on the other side of the road. This accident almost took his life. But he survived and now believes it happened for a reason: to promote teen driver safety.

Our Tennessee teen car accident lawyers have read the recent report, "The 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws," was conducted by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in which researchers took a look at 15 road safety laws of all states. During the evaluations of each state, researchers looked at how well the state was able to adhere to the safety group's grading scale. Through these ratings, Tennessee came out as one of the top 18 as it had followed 10.5 or more of the safety group's 15 suggested laws.

The more safety laws a state has for its roadways, the safer motorists are. This is a good time to remember how beneficial these laws can be for teens who are just learning to drive. It's vital to reiterate to our newly-licensed drivers the importance of keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Polakiewicz's accident was completely preventable. But with his dedication to spreading the word of safe driving skills, safer roadways may be in the near future.

"I just feel that Joe's survival is a miracle and maybe he survived for a reason," Nancy Polakiewicz, the teen driver's mother, told a reporter. "I need to tell his story to prevent others from going through that."

Road Laws Evaluated in the Report:

-Three different laws to limit drivers' ability to pack in the passengers.

-Having seven complete elements of a graduated driver's licensing (GDL) program.

-Four drug and alcohol-impaired driving laws, including one requiring ignition interlock devices for convicted offenders.

-A ban on text messaging for all drivers.

Some of the worst-ranked states were South Dakota and Arizona, with 4 and 4.5 points, respectively.

Parents are reminded that these laws can be useless without adult enforcement. Parents should remain actively involved in their teen's driving career long after they've graduated to an unrestricted driver's license. Parent involvement can be one of the most beneficial factors in the fight against teen car accidents in Tennessee.

Continue reading "Advocacy Group and Local Teen Fight for Safer Roads to Reduce Risks of Car Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere" »

December 26, 2011

NTSB Pushes for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use to Help Curb Car Accidents in Knoxville, Nation

Drivers across the country would no longer be legally able to talk, text or surf the web on a cell phone if the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) gets its way, according to KnoxNews. The Board made a recommendation this month to get local, state and federal officials to prohibit the use of portable electronic devices for all drivers.
885747_pda.jpg
The recommendation comes after a recent meeting in which federal officials discussed the dangers of drivers' bad habits. The meeting covered the catastrophic traffic accident that happened in 2010 in Gray Summit, Missouri, in which a distracted driver allegedly killed two people and injured dozens more. In Missouri, drivers under the age of 21 are prohibited from texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). All other drivers are free to do as they wish behind the wheel. That's the problem with current laws. Most states prohibit drivers from texting, but not from talking on a cell phone. It's difficult for officials to determine if a driver is using a phone to call someone or typing a text message. A federal ban on all devices would help officials to bust drivers, and could help reduce the risks of distraction-related car accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere.

Our Knoxville car accident attorneys understand that NTSB doesn't have the authority to enact such a law, but its recommendations typically have a significant influence on laws that are passed by state, local and federal lawmakers. If this proposal were to become law, there would be a few exceptions. For instance, devices used to aid driver safety would be permitted, as well as during emergency situations.

"States aren't ready to support a total ban yet, but this may start the discussion," said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the GHSA.

Currently, there are 35 states that do not allow drivers to text at the wheel. Another nine states don't allow drivers to talk on a cell phone while driving. In these states, enforcement of these laws has not appeared to be a top priority.

"Needless lives are lost on our highways, and for what? Convenience? Death isn't convenient," said Deborah Hersman with the NTSB. "So we can stay more connected? A fatal accident severs that connection."

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than a million traffic accidents are caused by drivers who are distracted by cell phones every year. These accidents account for more than 20 percent of all recorded accidents.

Because of these alarming statistics, the NSC says it completely backs the NTSB and its decision to push for a nationwide ban on all electronic devices for drivers.

"This recommendation by NTSB is a national call to action to end distracted driving due to cell phone use. This is a growing public safety threat that needs to be addressed by legislators, employers and every person who operates a motor vehicle on our nation's roadways," said Janet Froetscher with the NSC.

Continue reading "NTSB Pushes for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use to Help Curb Car Accidents in Knoxville, Nation" »

July 6, 2011

Tennessee Teen Institute Camp Focuses on Teen and Drunk Driving Car Accident in Tennessee

A number of teens gathered at the Tennessee Teen Institute (TTI) at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville to discuss the importance, and raise awareness of, teen and drunk driving car accidents in Tennessee.

The camp invited teens from ages 13- to 18-years-old from across the state, according to the Jackson Sun. About 350 teens spent the week at the camp participating in activities that aimed to explain the dangers of drinking and driving.
1210382_my_beer.jpg
Our Tennessee personal injury attorneys understand that events like this are important in keeping our roadways safe. These drivers, teens and ones those who are impaired by alcohol, pose serious threats to motorists on our roadways. For this reason, the National Transportation Safety Board has placed both types of drivers on their "most wanted" list. This list targets these drivers and encourages government enforcement to reduce the risks of such traffic accidents.

"It's really youth-driven and youth-led," said Barry Cooper, director of JACOA, which helps organize TTI every year. "The student staff members work together, and they really make the camp."

Teens are targeted at this camp because they are the most vulnerable on our roadways. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States. It is estimated that nearly 10 teens die on our roadways every day. This death rate is higher than for deaths related to cancer, gun violence or drugs among those in this age group.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 teen drivers were involved in fatal traffic accidents in 2009 alone in the United States. Nearly 200 teen drivers in Tennessee died on our roadways during that year.

To help reduce the risks of these fatal teen car accidents, the NTSB recommends that all states enforce a graduated drivers license (GDL) . Luckily, Tennessee is one step ahead and already enforces the system, according to the Department of Safety & Homeland Security.

Under Tennessee's GDL program, a teen must complete the following steps to get a full, unrestricted driver's license:

-Tennessee Learner Permit: A teen must be 15-years-old and pass a standard vision screening. They're also required to pass the Class D knowledge exam. New drivers are required to show proof of school attendance/progress from a current Tennessee school or a letter from the school in your previous state that confirms your attendance and acceptable grade marks.

-Tennessee Intermediate Driver License: A driver can get this license when they turn 16-years-old. They must have had a valid learner permit for a minimum of 180 days and must have completed 50 hours of behind the wheel driving experience, which needs to include 10 hours of night driving. They must then pass another road skills test.

-Tennessee Unrestricted Driver Silence: After all of the above steps are completed and requirements met, a teen can then apply for their full, unrestricted license.

Although teens are not old enough to consume alcohol, it doesn't mean that they won't. This is why the camp focuses on intoxicated driving as well. Through the camp, students will learn that nearly 11,000 people were killed in these preventable car accidents in 2009 on U.S. roadways. Drunk driving accidents account for nearly a third of all traffic accident fatalities. It is estimated that someone dies every 48 minutes because of these accidents. Tennessee witnessed nearly 350 deaths on our roadways because of accidents that involved an intoxicated driver.

To help combat intoxicated driving accidents, the NTSB recommends that states follow these tips:

-Limit plea bargaining deals in court.

-Limit diversion programs.

-Conduct a number of sobriety checkpoints.

-Enforce administrative license revocation for those who either refuse to take or fail a sobriety test.

-Install ignition-interlock devices in the vehicles on those who have been convicted of drinking while driving.

-Use jail alternatives, such as dedicated jail/treatment facilities, home detention with electronic monitoring or intensive supervision probation.

"This is building future leaders for the state in prevention," said Cooper. "Some of these kids now are social workers or getting master's degrees and doing things. They're taking what they learned and moving on."

Continue reading "Tennessee Teen Institute Camp Focuses on Teen and Drunk Driving Car Accident in Tennessee" »

June 6, 2011

Teen Driver Dies in Tennessee Car Accident

A 16-year-old girl lost her life this past weekend after she reportedly lost control of her vehicle and was struck by two oncoming vehicles. The crash happened when she went though the median and through the cable-wire barrier of the Interstate. State police are still investigating the accident. They have concluded that the teen driver was not wearing her seat belt at the time of the crash.
768180_urban_traffic.jpg
These accidents are not uncommon among our teen drivers. Teens are more vulnerable for a car accident in Tennessee and elsewhere because of their lack of driving experience. They're also more likely to participate in distracted driving behaviors and to ignore roadway rules and regulations.

Our Maryville personal injury attorneys would like to warn teens and parents about the increased risk of motor-vehicle accidents during the summer months. With prom, graduation and summer break approaching, teen drivers will be hitting our roadways in full force. It is no surprise that these months provide the 100 most dangerous days for teen drivers on our roadways.

An autopsy on the teen driver indicated the she died "as the result of neck and chest trauma," according to the coroner's office. Routine toxicology testing will be conducted in order to determine if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash,

The father of the teen driver is responding to reports and articles that claim that his daughter was on the phone right before the accident.

"She was not texting and talking on her phone," said Barry Budwell, the teen's father. "That's the first thing I have to hear about, and that's wrong."

After analyzing crash data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Allstate Foundation discovered that May 20 is the deadliest day for teens on our roadways. This day took the lives of 63 percent more teen lives than average over the past five years.

Because of the increased traffic of teen drivers in the summer, May through August prove to be most deadly. There are 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day that have bee coined as the deadliest for teen drivers.

Data from the IIHS also concludes that roughly 60 percent of teen passenger deaths occur in vehicles that are driven by another teen. Other studies concluded that more than 75 percent of teens confess that they feel unsafe while riding with another teen driver.

Motor-vehicle accidents continue to be the number one cause of death for teens in the United States. These accidents take more lives than cancer, heart disease and AIDS altogether. Every year, roughly 6,000 teens die in traffic accidents. This means about 16 teens die because of car accidents every day. More than 300,000 teens suffer injuries from these accidents every year. Overall, teens are involved in three times are more fatal accidents than any other age group of drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 158 teens died in Tennessee traffic accidents in 2009 alone.

Continue reading "Teen Driver Dies in Tennessee Car Accident" »

May 20, 2011

Three High School Teens Die in Tennessee Traffic Accident

Three freshmen of Trousdale County High School were killed in a Tennessee traffic accident, according to The Tennessean. Their pickup truck collided with a semi-tractor trailer between Hartsville and Lebanon on Highway 141.
232052_semi-truck_2.jpg
Tennessee Highway Patrol office in Cookeville reports that the teen driver and his two passengers were heading northbound in 141 in a pickup truck when he lost control of the vehicle and went off the road and onto the shoulder. He overcorrected and crossed the center line and headed into the southbound lane. That is where a southbound tractor-trailer struck the passenger side of the pickup. The accident occurred right before 1:00 p.m. and closed the highway for quite some time.

Knoxville accident attorneys understand that teen drivers have less experience and more distractions, making them especially vulnerable to serious accidents. With the end of the school year approaching, prom, graduation and summer break will increase the risk of car accidents involving young drivers.

Two of the teen occupants in the truck were killed immediately. A third teen was ejected from the truck and later pronounced dead at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, the semi-truck driver was not injured. Alcohol and drugs tests are being done on both drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, there were more than 208 million licensed drivers in 2008 on the roads of the United States. It is estimated that young drivers, between the ages of 15 and 20-year-old, made up more than 6 percent, or more than 13 million, of the total number of drivers. The number of teen drivers increased more than 5 percent since 1999.

Nearly 2,500 15- to 20-year-old drivers were killed, and 196,000 were injured in traffic accidents in 2009. Nearly 200 teens were killed in traffic accidents that involved a teen driver in Tennessee in 2009.

We encourage parents to talk with your teen about the responsibilities of driving and the consequences of making poor decisions behind the wheel. To help you establish some safe driving ground rules, the AAA Foundation offers this parent-teen driving agreement.

Continue reading "Three High School Teens Die in Tennessee Traffic Accident" »

March 24, 2011

Teens More Likely to Text and Drive Causing Increased Risk for Knoxville Car Accidents

As more and more teens hit the road and the school year winds down, drivers will be at an increased chance of being involved in a Knoxville car accident.

Knoxville injury lawyers know all too well the severity of distracted driving among teens. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood states, "Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America's roads and teens are especially vulnerable because of their inexperience behind the wheel and, often, peer pressure."
1324052_a_car.jpg
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that nearly 500,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving in 2009. Nearly 5,500 people were killed in the United States.

Consumer Reports National Research Center recently conducted a representative survey about distracted driving and discovered some alarming facts:

-More than 60 percent of teen drivers admitted to using a hand-held phone while driving.

-30 percent of teens admit to texting while driving.

-9 out of 10 teen drivers have witnessed someone else using a hand-held phone behind the wheel.

-More than half of those surveyed have seen a distracted driver create a dangerous driving situation.

The DOT is teaming up with Consumer Reports in effort to educate teens about the dangers of texting and cell phone use while driving. They're offering a free "Distracted Driving Shatters Lives" guide to parents, teens and teachers to alert them of the dangers of distracted driving.

The DOT and Consumer Reports recommend that you keep these points in mind when discussing road safety with your teen:

-Make sure they know the consequences of distracted driving, including punishments, consequences and injuries.

-Establish rules prohibiting texting and calling behind the wheel.

-Lead by example. Put down your phone while driving.

-Make a driving contract to be signed by you and your teen agreeing on specific driving rules.

"It only takes a moment to cause a tragedy," says Jim Guest, president of Consumers Union, "No text or call is worth a life."

Continue reading "Teens More Likely to Text and Drive Causing Increased Risk for Knoxville Car Accidents" »

January 17, 2011

Teen Safe Driving should reduce risk of Tennessee Car Accidents in 2011

Young drivers in Tennessee are showing signs of being safer on the roadways. Our Knoxville car accident attorneys find that hopeful since the 15-20 year old age group is most at risk for being involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes.

Recently, Knox News reported that Tennessee officials were seeing a reduction in fatal car accidents involving teenagers.
267179_right_hand_drive_steering_whee.jpg
Back in 2000, Tennessee initiated a graduated driver's license law in an effort to keep teens safer. Tennessee currently allows teens once they turn 15 ½ years old to apply for a learner's permit. The GDL restricts them at age 16 to only driving during certain hours of the day unsupervised. They are also allowed to have no more than one passenger in the car with them at a time.

As a result, state officials believe there has been a decrease in teen fatalities on the roadways. In 2005, there were 136 accidents per 1,000 drivers between the ages of 15-24. By 2009, this number dropped to 111 accidents per 1000 licensed drivers in that same age group. Reports have also shown that teen fatalities have gone down from 104 in 2007 to a preliminary report of 17 teen deaths in 2010.

Some states are adopting the multi-stage license requirements because they feel it gives young drivers time to develop their skills in order to be safer by the time they drive on their own. Safe Kids USA feels that educating your teens is the way to go according to a recent article in Yahoo News .

Safe Kids USA is targeting the 13-14 year old age group with a new program Countdown2Drive. Along with the help of the General Motors Foundation the program will educate teens on what it means to be a safe passenger as well as safe driver. The premise behind the new program is that if teens adapt safety tips now it will keep them safer as they begin to drive and become more independent.

The Tennessee Department of Safety promotes safety by offering the following tips to you and your teen driver:

-Know: research the facts and dangers of driving so that you can teach your teen.

-Show: exercise good driving behaviors when your teen is in the car with you.

-Grow: take the time to build your relationship with your teen so that the lines of communication don't get blocked. Your young driver should be able to talk to you about driving situations or problems that arise.

Make your teen a priority when it comes time for them to learn to drive. Teaching them good driving behavior will keep them safer on the roadways for years to come.

Continue reading "Teen Safe Driving should reduce risk of Tennessee Car Accidents in 2011" »