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Despite higher car accidents risk, teens' cars are often unsafe

Driving is probably one of the most common, yet also most dangerous, activities that Virginia residents engage in on a daily basis. The risk of car accidents is great and can result from any number of factors, including road conditions, weather conditions, a driver's own bad driving habits or loss of control, or a negligent or distracted driver. Many people often focus on inexperience when discussing the potential dangers related to teenage drivers yet few sources have discussed safety in terms of a teen driver's car.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia, recently reported that many of the cars driven by teenagers are not as safe as they should be, especially given the recognized higher risk of accidents associated with teenage drivers. The Institute interviewed approximately 500 parents of teen drivers to determine what kinds of cars the teens were primarily driving. Their inquiry revealed that over half of the cars purchased for teens were model year 2006 or older. In many other cases, teens were receiving cars previously used by parents or older siblings. In these situations, the teens ended up with cars even older, as 2/3 of them were at least eight years old or more. According to the Insurance Institute, the problem with teens driving these older cars is that many of them do not have side airbags or electronic stability control, which can help prevent accidents or protect occupants in a crash.

Although this study discusses the safety of the cars primarily driven by teen drivers, it underscores the reality that many teenage drivers have a high risk of being in an accident. In some situations, the teenage driver may be to blame for the crash, but in many other cases the teenage driver is the victim of a crash caused by another driver. Because teen drivers are less experienced, even cautious drivers who follow the rules of the road may be unable to avoid an accident to the same extent that a more experienced driver might be able to.

When Virginia residents of any age are injured in a crash or suffer property damages, they may want to investigate the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The primary elements of these lawsuits are proving the liability of the other driver and establishing that the plaintiff suffered damages. Successful lawsuits often require careful investigation in the cause and circumstances of the accident, as well as detailed information about the injuries and damages suffered.

Source:, "Teens cars found lacking in safety," Jim Gorzelany, Sept. 10, 2014

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