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| Shapiro, Appleton, Washburn & Sharp

As experienced North Carolina accident injury attorneys, my colleagues and I have known for some time that inexperience is the cause of wrecks. The extent to which this is true was recently made apparent in an analysis published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The foundation’s review revealed that teen drivers in the Tar Heel State are about 50 percent more likely to crash in their first month of driving than they after a year of driving on their own.

Researchers wrote that three common mistakes — “failure to reduce speed, inattention, and failure to yield — accounted for 57 percent of all crashes in which teens were at least partially responsible during their first month of licensed driving.”

More precisely, the research pinpointed how some kinds of crashes occurred at relatively high rates initially and declined sharply with experience. These included crashes involving left-hand turns.

“We know that young drivers’ crash rates decrease quickly as they gain experience. What our new study tells us is that there are a few specific abilities that we could do a better job of helping teens develop before they begin driving independently,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger.

Although many teens learn through their mistakes, too many don’t survive the learning curve. In 2009 we reported the alarming trend in North Carolina of rising teen traffic accidet deaths. Many of those fatalities were linked to speeding. While driving too fast can be dangerous for all drivers, it hasproven particularly lethal for inexperienced teen drivers.

According to survey in early 2011 conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, almost two-thirds of teen driver’s wrecks were not caused by reckless driving but by three key inexperienced driver mistakes: not scanning the road, distracted driving and misjudging driving conditions.

If you are the victim of a crash caused by a teen driver, whether the cause is a mistake or recklessness may not matter much. In a tragic 2008 accident, three teens from Green Run High School in Virginia Beach, VA, were killed when the driver crossed a center line in slippery conditions and hit a van.

The relatives of victims killed by the actions or inactions of an inexperienced teen driver may be entitled to recover damages under a wrongful death lawsuit.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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