A Bay Area car accident attorney examines the reasons why
When it comes to driving a motor vehicle, there is no substitute for experience behind the wheel. That’s a major reason that so many car accidents in California involve younger drivers—and a new study shows these types of accidents have been a problem in our state for years.
Too young to drive?
The numbers are too tragic to ignore. Young California drivers (ages 15 to 20) were involved in more car accidents from 2010 to 2019 – a total of 3,617 – than any state other than Texas (4,278).
Nationally, the total was 41,187 auto accidents for the age group. The numbers were compiled by ValuePenguin, a personal finance website, based on its analysis of the most recent available crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sadly, the trend of accidents involving young drivers in California worsened over the decade, jumping 8%, compared to a 14% drop across the nation. Texas, by comparison, saw a 5% decline. Young drivers accounted for 12% of fatal accidents in California, slightly below the national figure of 13%.
Nationwide, 29,227 young drivers ages 15 to 20 died in fatal crashes for the time period covered in the study. Sixty-two percent of the fatalities occurred with a young person behind the wheel, while 38% of the young people killed were passengers. The largest share of people who died were drivers ages 25 to 34, at 19%.
Besides the human toll, insurance rates for younger drivers involved in a single accident in California skyrocketed by 267%, above the national average increase of 253%. The average policy that cost $1,817 in 2010 totaled a staggering $6,675 in 2019.
Safe driving tips for inexperienced motorists
For younger drivers, the state offers long lists of tips for preventing accidents. They range from driving skills and a safe driver checklist to handling special problems and emergencies, along with knowledge tests.
A few of the highlighted areas include:
- Proper signaling and turning: Remember to use turn signals and know your hand signals. Practice turning in large, open parking lots and learn how to steer throughout a turn.
- Being safe when backing up a vehicle: Check your mirrors and don't back up around corners or sharp curves. Make sure you can turn your car left or right while backing up.
- Driving through intersections: Always obey traffic control signals and don't speed up to beat a yellow light before it turns red. Check cross streets when driving through the intersection.
- Choosing and changing lanes: Use the left lane to pass or turn left, otherwise stay to the right if the road is two lanes. On roads with three lanes, choose to travel in the middle lane.
- Maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles: Give other drivers enough room and don't tailgate. In the event the driver in front of you has to suddenly slow down or come to a stop, you may cause a rear-end car accident if you were following too closely.
- Freeway driving: Use your signals, check your blind spots, obey the speed limit, and adjust your driving for the roadway conditions.
- Driving at night: Avoid nighttime driving until your driving skills are the same at night as they are during the day. Turn on your headlights when it's dark so other motorists can see you coming and you can see what's in the road ahead.
- Preparing to drive: Adjust your side and rearview mirrors and always buckle your seatbelt.
- Adjusting speed to traffic conditions: Weather events such as rain, fog, snow, and can reduce visibility, make roads slick, and cause other hazards.
- Checking blind spots: Learn how to look over your shoulder to see what's in your blind spot.
- Defensive driving: Use your side and rearview mirrors to keep aware of your surroundings; obey traffic control signals and signs; don't follow too closely; and give everyone else on the road a safe cushion.
- Share the road: Watch the sides and middle of the road for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users. When an emergency vehicle has its sirens activated, pull over to the right side of the road and let the emergency vehicle pass before you resume driving.
- Hydroplaning: To avoid hydroplaning, make sure your tires have the correct air pressure and a good tire tread; drive slowly; go around water when possible, and slow down if you hear a sloshing noise coming from your tires.
How to hold negligent drivers accountable
Younger drivers pose a certain amount of danger to their fellow motorists because they lack experience and are more prone to taking risks (e.g., texting and driving, speeding, illegal passing, etc.). If you were injured in an accident caused by a younger driver (or anyone else who was being negligent), you have the right to seek compensation for your losses, but the process isn't always easy. Auto insurance companies are driven by profit and often try to press crash victims into taking lowball settlement offers. Or, they may try to blame the crash on you and offer you nothing.
That’s why you need an experienced car accident attorney in your corner to aggressively advocate for your best interests and fight for every dollar you're entitled to. At Clancy & Diaz, LLP, our personal injury attorneys know how to deal with insurance companies and build strong cases. Whether it's through a negotiated settlement or in court in front of a judge and jury, our goal is to obtain maximum compensation.
To find out how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free consultation. We proudly serve clients in Walnut Creek, Antioch, and throughout the Bay Area.