Texas, Oklahoma Among Top States With Highest Teen Driver Fatality Rate From 2011-2020

A young driver looking down at his phone while behind the wheel.

Young drivers are susceptible to serious and fatal car accidents.

Every year, thousands of young lives across the nation are tragically cut short due to car accidents, making teen driver fatalities a pressing concern that demands immediate attention.

In Texas and Oklahoma, the numbers paint a stark picture. According to a report by ValuePenguin that examined teen crash data from 2011 to 2020, Texas and Oklahoma are among the states with the highest teen driver fatality rates.

As summer arrives and more teens take to the roads, it's critical to understand the factors contributing to teen driver accidents. Likewise, it's also important for injured drivers and passengers to understand their legal rights. Here's what you need to know.

Teen driver fatalities in Texas & Oklahoma

When comparing fatality rates among different states, a clear disparity emerges, highlighting the varying levels of risk faced by teen drivers across the country. While some states have made significant progress in reducing teen driver fatalities, others continue to grapple with alarmingly high rates.

According to the ValuePenguin study, Texas has the 14th highest teen driver fatality rate between 2011 and 2020. During that period, the state recorded an annual average of 2.02 deaths per 10,000 licensed teen drivers.

Oklahoma has also witnessed a significant number of teen driver fatalities. Based on the same study, the state recorded an annual average of 1.97 deaths per 10,000 licensed teen drivers during the same 10-year period, ranking right behind Texas with the 15th highest fatality rate.

What causes accidents involving teen drivers?

Driving habits play a significant role in the frequency of teen crashes, making it crucial to identify and address the specific behaviors that contribute to these accidents.

Common causes include:

  • Speeding: Teens often underestimate the risks associated with speeding and may engage in reckless driving behaviors, such as exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for road conditions. Nationwide, speeding was a factor in about 44% of teen-related fatal crashes over the 10 years studied in the ValuePenguin report.
  • Distracted driving: Distractions, such as texting, talking on the phone, or interacting with passengers, divert a teen driver's attention from the road and increase the likelihood of a crash. The ValuePenguin study notes nearly 9% of teen driver deaths are attributed to distracted driving, surpassing the average of 6.1% across all driver deaths. 
  • Impaired driving: Teens may be more susceptible to impaired driving, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which significantly impairs their judgment, reaction time, and overall driving abilities. According to the ValuePenguin study, in 23% of teen driver deaths, the driver involved had a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.
  • Lack of seat belt usage: Failing to wear seat belts increases the risk of severe injuries or fatalities in the event of a crash. Many teen drivers and passengers neglect to use seat belts consistently. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 50% of occupants who died in car crashes in 2021 were not wearing seat belts.
  • Aggressive driving: Inexperienced teen drivers may exhibit aggressive behaviors when behind the wheel, such as tailgating, excessive lane changes, or engaging in road rage incidents, which can lead to collisions and dangerous situations on the road.
  • Inexperience: Inadequate experience behind the wheel leaves teens less equipped to handle unexpected or challenging driving situations, such as adverse weather conditions, complex intersections, or high-traffic areas.
  • Failure to follow traffic laws: Teens may disregard traffic laws, including running red lights or stop signs, failing to yield right-of-way, or not using turn signals properly, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Peer influence: When driving with friends or peers, teens may feel pressured to engage in risky behaviors, including speeding, distracted driving, or showing off, which can lead to accidents.

Tips for safe teen driving

  • Buckle up: Always prioritize wearing your seat belt, and ensure that all passengers in the vehicle are properly restrained. Again, seat belts are crucial for preventing injuries and saving lives in the event of a crash.
  • Minimize distractions: Put away your phone, avoid eating or drinking, and limit conversations with passengers that may divert your attention from the road. Focus on the task of driving and keep distractions to a minimum.
  • Observe speed limits: Adhere to posted speed limits and adjust your speed according to road conditions. Speeding is a leading cause of accidents, so it's important to drive at a safe and appropriate speed at all times.
  • Maintain a safe following distance: Leave ample space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This allows for a proper reaction time in case of sudden stops or changes in traffic. Keep a safe distance to avoid rear-end collisions.
  • Practice defensive driving: Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Anticipate potential hazards, such as a pedestrian crossing the road, and be prepared to react promptly. Defensive driving helps you stay proactive and avoid dangerous situations.
  • Avoid impaired driving: Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impaired driving significantly impairs your judgment, reaction time, and overall driving abilities.
  • Understand and obey traffic laws: Familiarize yourself with traffic regulations, signs, and signals. Understanding and obeying traffic laws helps you drive safely and responsibly. Be mindful of traffic rules and follow them diligently.

How a car accident attorney can help

At Hoover Rogers Law, LLP, we understand navigating the legal process after a crash can be challenging, particularly when dealing with severe injuries. That's why we're here to help. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, we can explain your potential legal options and advocate for the maximum compensation you deserve.

To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free injury case consultation. Our offices are located in Wichita Falls, TX, and Lawton, OK.

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