Montana saw the fifth highest rate of fatal car crashes involving teen drivers in the nation from 2011 to 2020. During this time, 10.6 teen driver fatalities occurred each year. This amounted to 2.69 fatalities for every 10,000 teen drivers.
Given these stark statistics, parents and teens alike will want to be aware of some common causes of fatal car crashes. Being prepared to drive safely can be key in ensuring your teen reaches their destination and home again.
Common causes of fatal car crashes
Speeding is one common cause of fatal car crashes. Teens are often in a hurry and cannot appreciate how risky driving can slow their progress or cause car crashes.
For example, speeding generally does not help you reach your destination sooner if you are simply stuck behind slower moving vehicles or are losing time by constantly swerving between lanes.
Moreover, even when a motorist does drive above the posted speed limit, it may simply mean they reach a stop sign or stop light a moment or two earlier — no significant time is saved. And, of course, getting in a car crash will ensure you do not reach your destination safely or on time.
Drunk driving is another common cause of fatal car crashes. Teens who experiment with alcohol generally do not know their limit and can become intoxicated quickly. Even adults can overindulge and underestimate how intoxicated they are.
Drunk driving is always dangerous. Drunk drivers are unable to control their thoughts and actions and have lost their physical and mental ability to drive in a safe manner. They might even black out behind the wheel. Any of these issues can easily lead to a car crash.
Distracted driving is another common cause of fatal car crashes. Teenagers these days do not remember a time when cellphones were not widely used, and now cellphones are seen as a basic necessity. Moreover, teenagers are especially likely to be engaged in a variety of social media platforms that they want to update, and texting is often more common than calling when it comes to teen cellphone use.
A teen, or any driver, who is texting and driving or otherwise using a cellphone behind the wheel is not paying attention to the road cognitively or visually. Moreover, they are manually manipulating the cellphone, not the steering wheel. It is easy to see how these behaviors can cause a teen driver to miss potential hazards on the road or lose physical control of their vehicle, leading to a car crash.
How adults can play a role in reducing fatal car crashes
Parents can do their part to prevent fatal car crashes by talking to their teens about safe driving practices. Other trusted adults, such as teachers, adult siblings or family friends can also talk to teens about how to avoid dangerous behaviors that lead to fatal car crashes. Teens often need reminders about safe driving practices, so it is likely these conversations should be had on an ongoing basis.
Newly licensed teens enjoy driving but might not appreciate the dangers that risky driving presents. By understanding how they can do their part to drive safely by following the rules of the road and avoiding drunk driving and distracted driving, teens can reach their destinations safely and make it home again to their loved ones.