Limiting Underage Accidents
Underage accidents are responsible for the most teen deaths in the Western World. High speeds, recklessness, distraction and alcohol intake account for the majority of these accidents. Authorities are constantly seeking new ways to prevent this loss of life, especially with alcohol control. An underage driver is twice as likely to have an accident, as someone over 21, when alcohol has been consumed. The increase of the minimum legal drinking age to 21, across 50 American states, shows a positive move towards more control. The effectiveness of these controls, however, lies in the implementation and enforcement thereof. Even with the blood alcohol limit of 0.00 to 0.02 percent, (depending on the State) mortality rates are still too high for underage drivers.
A further risk factor, with regards youth accidents, is driving without a license. Not only are these drivers inexperienced, but teens who are prepared to risk illegal driving are also more likely to take chances behind the wheel. The younger the driver, the less developed the brain and therefore less able to predict dangerous situations and act sensibly.
Talking or texting on mobile phones, whilst driving, has a huge influence on all drivers’ safety and one has to stress that parents set a good example to their children. Studies have shown that the biggest influence in teen driving habits is parental. Furthermore, imposing curfews for underage drivers could be a lifesaver, with around 40% of underage accidents happening between 9pm and 6 am. New Zealand has successfully managed to reduce teen accidents, by means of a 10pm curfew on underage drivers.
Britain is also seeing an increase in underage accidents and surprisingly also in Australia, where strict driver’s license prohibitions, for underage drivers, is in place. Car accidents in Australia are still the cause of over 60% of deaths among 17-20 year olds. It would appear that there is only so much the law can do and parents are encouraged to enforce restrictions on their teenagers, not only with regards curfews, but by limiting the number of passengers in a car. The more passengers in a car, the greater the risk of an accident caused by distraction.
Our dependence on cars is perhaps the biggest contributor to all accidents. With young people more prone to binge drinking, reckless behavior, distraction by friends and phones, it would seem that the safest option is to not need to drive. By making public transport safe and more accessible we could be saving our children’s lives.