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Teens Behind the Wheel

Benson & Bingham

Learning to drive and getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for many teenagers in Nevada.   However, for many parents, teen driving is worrisome, especially when their children have access to distractions at their fingertips. This year Northern Nevada saw several car accidents where teen drivers were involved. This leads one to ask the question: What is the correlation between teen drivers and car accidents?

Teens Driving

Teens in Nevada can receive their driver’s permit at fifteen and a half years old, and can receive their driver’s license at sixteen years old. [1] Before receiving their license, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles require teens to take a Driver’s Ed class. This class teaches students how to be safe drivers and how to prevent car accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents, among many other things. Teens are also warned of common distractions, such as texting, phone calls, eating, noisy passengers, etc. However, motor vehicle accidents, primarily car accidents, remain the number one cause for death of teenagers in the United States. Vehicular accidents take away the life of 2,400 lives annually in the United States and fifty percent of teens will be in a car accident before graduating high school.  [2] Last year, in Northern Nevada, nineteen out of the thirty-nine fatal car accidents, had a driver between the age of fifteen and twenty years old.[3] However it is not all grim news in the Silver State as Clark County and Washoe County are both ranked in the top ten in teen driving safety nationally.

So what are some safety measures that can be taken to protect Nevada teen drivers? Here are some safety measure that can be taken to prevent car accidents:

  • Avoid the use of cell phones unless there is an emergency. This includes texting, phone calls, social media, etc.
  • Avoid extra passengers/ loud or distracting passengers.
  • No speeding. Driving at speed limit can prevent collisions, as well as ensure the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists sharing the road with you.
  • Do not drive under the influence of alcohol. Instead, take an Uber, Lyft, taxi, or another rideshare service.
  • No driving or riding without a seat belt
  • Play music at a low volume–Avoid changing the radio station while driving and wait for a stop to do so.
  • Avoid driving at night –Driving in unfamiliar areas at night increases your chances of a collision. [4]

Teen Drivers and Car accidents in Northern Nevada

On Sunday July 5, two teens were killed in a single vehicle car accident on Sparks Boulevard [5]. One passenger was seventeen years old, while the other was sixteen. When authorities arrived on the scene they found a heavily damaged car that had left the roadway and hit a tree. Witnesses state that they saw the car travel at a high speed as it passed through the intersection. Alcohol or drugs are not suspected to be causes of the accident, however it is still under investigation. This tragic car accident is a reminder to teens in Northern Nevada that speeding or other decisions that lack judgement while driving can result in dire results.

In the early morning hours of Sunday June 28, a 19-year-old driver was arrested on a first-time charge of driving under the influence after police responded to a no-injury car accident report at a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. [6] Though this accident could have had tragic results like the previous one, this accident had a more positive outcome. In this case the young teenager was taken off the road and learned a valuable lesson about drunk driving.

While Northern Nevada has seen many car accidents related to teenagers, Las Vegas and Clark County has faced many teen pedestrian accidents. On April 29, 2020 Las Vegas police responded to a hit and run accident that claimed the life of a fifteen year old. [7] The teenager was hit at 8:20 p.m. and the driver fled the scene. On February 28, 2020 Las Vegas police responded to a similar incident where a drunk driver struck three teen pedestrians. [8] Two of the victims were eighteen years old while the other victim was seventeen.

These tragic teen pedestrian accidents serve as a reminder to take extra precautions when crossing the street, or walking near the road. Like driving, it is important to remove distractions when being a pedestrian. Nevada Dot suggests that pedestrians avoid using their phone, or looking at their phone while crossing the street. [9] They also caution against the use of headphones and being on phone calls. Lastly, when walking at night, pedestrians are recommended to wear bright clothing and to walk in well-lit areas. Nevada law also requires pedestrians to use crosswalks at intersection, sidewalks, and pedestrian bridges. [10] By taking these simple precautions, one can reduce their chances of being involved in a pedestrian accident.

In the modern world teens are surrounded by distractions. Often times they may feel like checking their social media or texts is more important than what is happening around them. Whether Nevada teens are getting behind the wheel or walking on the street, they should put their distractions aside and focus on their surroundings. By encouraging teens to take these precautions we can continue making roads in Washoe County, Clark County, and other parts of Nevada safe for our future generations.

[1] https://dmvnv.com/nvdlteens.htm

[2] https://www.safekids.org/press-release/number-one-killer-teens-motor-vehicle-crashes

[3] https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/education/nevada-among-top-10-safe-states-for-teen-drivers/

[4] https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/teen-driving

[5] https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2020/07/05/two-teenagers-dead-after-single-car-crash-sparks-early-saturday/5380412002/

[6] https://carsonnow.org/story/07/06/2020/carson-city-sheriffs-deputies-make-arrests-alleged-assault-dui-and-drug-incidents

[7] https://news3lv.com/news/local/pedestrian-dies-following-hit-and-run-crash-in-east-valley

[8] https://news3lv.com/news/local/drunk-driver-who-killed-three-las-vegas-teens-gets-51-years-to-life-in-prison

[9] https://www.nevadadot.com/home/showdocument?id=3982

[10] https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-484B.html

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