Fatal Accident Raises Awareness over Dangers of Teen Drivers

The Chicago Car Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a recent auto wreck that took the life of two Aurora teens earlier this month. Though utterly tragic, the circumstances surrounding this incident can hopefully alert parents to the dangers that accompany newly licensed, teen and/or inexperienced drivers.

The facts of this devastating accident, as reported by the Tribune, are as follows: A 17-year-old driver of an SUV, along with his 5 passengers, traveling from Aurora to Rochelle during foggy conditions, ran a red-light and collided with a semi-truck that was attempting to turn left on Illinois Highway 38. Tragically, two of the passengers, both 16-years of age, died as a result of the crash.

The public outcry and discussions brought about by this tragedy have been tremendous. This accident, quite simply, speaks of the dangers of teen drivers, and the sheer number of factors that may have potentially played a role cannot be ignored. Although we can only speculate as to the extent to which a particular factor contributed to the cause of this crash, we hope that doing so will promote awareness by encouraging continued discussion on this important safety issue.

Take, for example, the age of the driver—only 17 years old—at this age no motorist can be considered an experienced driver. The maneuvering capabilities; problem solving and reaction skills; as well as knowledge of traffic laws, are simply not at the level of a motorist that has been driving for several years. Consider the driver’s inexperience given the weather conditions—heavy fog. Even a skilled driver can have difficulty navigating a vehicle whenever the weather conditions cause a reduction in visibility. In light of the fact that the driver ran a red light, it seems the fog was certainly a contributing factor to this crash.

The number of passengers in the SUV is also concerning—the 17-year-old was transporting 5 passengers—6 including himself. The issue over teens and passenger-occupancy has been highly debated over the years, eventually leading to legislation that imposed restrictions upon newly-licensed teen drivers. It is unnecessary to delve into the numerous studies identifying the correlation between the number of passengers that a teen driver has, and the increased risk for accident—it is a well-established fact—passengers + teen drivers = distraction.

In addition to passenger-related distractions, teen driving an accident causation has been commonly linked to the use of mobile devices. Texting and driving in particular has become a growing epidemic in our nation, and is unlawful in many states, Illinois included. Texting while driving is a dangerous practice for any motorist, however it is far more risky for an inexperienced driver. While it is unknown as to whether the teen was distracted in some manner, whether due to passengers, mobile device use, or something else—distractions are common factors in many teen accidents. Parents should encourage teens to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times.

The use of seatbelts in this crash, is another consideration. The second-row passenger of the SUV was not wearing a seatbelt—sadly, he was one of the two victims to suffer fatality. Teen-drivers, and the use of seatbelts, is concerning—and for two primary reasons. Studies have shown that (1) many teen drivers do not require their passengers to wear a seatbelt; and (2) a significant number of teen drivers fail to use seatbelts themselves.

As a final thought, this devastating accident brings us to consider the issue of teens driving long distances and/or to areas that they are unfamiliar with. The trip from Aurora to Rochelle was approximately 45 minutes—a far distance for a 17-year-old high school student by many parents’ standards. Familiarity with a specific route is gained through repetition—something a 17-year-old driver, traveling nearly an hour away, is unlikely to have acquired during the short period he held a license.

As Accident Attorneys, Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. hopes that any parent reading this that has a teen driver, or soon-to-be teen driver, can take something away from this devastating crash.

If you were injured, or a loved one was killed as a result of a car accident, contact our Chicago injury lawyers at 773-516-4100 to schedule your FREE case evaluation, and allow us to fight for the compensation that you and your family deserves.