Rohnert Park Pedestrian Accident Raises Questions About Teenage Driving Safety

An eighteen year old driver drove her car into two pedestrians, a mother and her two year old child in Rohnert Park, California on Friday, December 3, 2010. The child was killed and her mother was seriously injured. The cause of the motor vehicle accident is still under investigation. Unfortunately, as an Oakland personal injury lawyer, I have observed that serious teenage car crashes appear to be rising. New brain research provides a potential explanation for these car accidents.

Teenage drivers have much higher rates of car accidents, and citations. The citation rate for 16 year olds is 1.8 times higher than that for drivers of all ages according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The crash rate for teenagers is a whopping 3.7 times that of crashes for the driving population in general. Many of these result in serious personal injuries for innocent victims.

There may be many reasons for the higher accident rates involving teenagers. Brain development may be an important factor in such accidents. A study by the National Institute of Health suggests that brain immaturity may explain the higher incidences of car accidents among teenage drivers. The study shows that the area of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25. This also helps explain why teenagers are more likely to drink, take drugs or commit crimes than older individuals.

Such brain research may be useful in drafting appropriate laws governing teenage driving, including age limits, the use of cell phones, and the transportation of passengers in order to reduce such accidents. More study needs to be done in this area to help stem the tide of increasing auto accidents involving teenage drivers.


ABC News, Teen driver strikes two pedestrians, killing toddler, December 3, 2010
California Department of Motor Vehicles, Teenage Driver Crash Statistics

Washington Post, Brain Immaturity Could Explain Teen Crash Rate, February 1, 2005

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