With summer comes increased risk of teen traffic accidents

With Memorial Day come and gone, summer has unofficially begun in North Carolina - and so has car accident season. Especially for teen drivers, the risk of traffic accidents is particularly high during the summer months each year. In fact, CNN recently ran a story characterizing the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the "100 deadliest days for teen drivers."

It makes a certain amount of sense that car accidents involving teen drivers would spike during the summer, since school is out and kids tend to have more time on their hands. Not only are many teenagers spending more time on the road as the weather warms up, but they are likely to be doing more recreational driving rather than routine trips between home and school. This means they may be doing more driving in unfamiliar areas, which can increase the risk of accidents for drivers of any experience level.

Another factor that may be less intuitive, however, is that teens are more likely to drive with their friends during the summertime. Although this may sound innocuous enough, a growing body of research suggests that the mere presence of passengers in a vehicle can be enough to dramatically increase the risk of serious accidents for teen drivers.

For teen drivers, passengers may be riskier than technology

In fact, a recent study by the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina suggests that horseplay and loud conversations among passengers may contribute even more to dangerous situations involving teen drivers than technology. The research was based on recordings taken with cameras that were installed in the cars of 52 North Carolina teens who agreed to be filmed while driving. The findings were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in the spring of 2014.

The National Safety Council puts the matter in even starker terms: Teen drivers are 44 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal crash when there are passengers in the vehicle.

As the correlation between passengers and crashes involving teen drivers has become better understood, many states have enacted graduated driver's licensing laws that place limits on the number of other young people who may be present in a vehicle driven by a teenager. In North Carolina, no more than one passenger under the age of 21 is permitted in a vehicle driven by someone with a Level Two Learner Permit, with certain limited exceptions.

After a crash, get help to protect your rights

In the event that you or a family member is hurt in a North Carolina traffic accident, it is important to take steps to protect your legal rights and financial interests. In many cases, depending on the circumstances of the crash, you may have an opportunity to seek monetary compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages and rehabilitative care. To learn more about your legal options after a car accident in North Carolina, get in touch with a personal injury law firm at your earliest opportunity.