Getting a driver's license is an important rite of passage for Wisconsin teenagers — it's a big first step toward the freedom and independence that comes with adulthood. However, having a driver's license also means having increased responsibility. New research suggests that teens may not be ready to take on all the privileges of driving immediately after getting their licenses.
According to AAA, teen drivers are far more likely to be involved in fatal car accidents when they have passengers under age 21 travelling in the vehicle with them. Having one young passenger (and no adults) in the car increases a teen's chances of being involved in a fatal crash by 44 percent compared with driving alone. The risk increases exponentially with each additional passenger.
Interestingly, teen drivers' risk of being involved in a fatal car accident actually drops by 62 percent when an adult over age 35 is riding in the car.
Wisconsin Distracted Driving Accidents
Much of the risk comes from the fact that teens tend to distract each other easily. Without an adult in the car, teens are less likely to self-regulate their behavior. Further, teens may be less likely to criticize friends for engaging in distracting behavior while driving.
However, teenagers are not the only ones at risk for distracted driving accidents. The sad truth is that Wisconsin drivers of all ages are guilty of distracted or inattentive driving.
Distracted driving is not limited to talking on a cellphone or texting while driving. Any number of distractions can easily take a driver's attention off the road. Common distractions include: eating, programming a GPS, conversing with a passenger and thinking about a stressful day at work.
Distracted drivers experience a phenomenon that researchers call "inattention blindness." They may be looking out the windshield, but their brain cannot observe and process everything in the roadway. As a result, they may not notice potential hazards until it is too late.
Wisconsin Accident Victims Have Rights
Wisconsin law provides civil remedies to victims of car accidents caused by distracted, careless, inattentive or negligent drivers. Victims can pursue claims against the driver responsible for causing the accident and can recover compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
However, the accident victim has the burden of proving the other driver's fault. In many cases, this requires a significant amount of expertise. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent or distracted driver, talk to a Milwaukee personal injury attorney who can help protect your rights.