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Massachusetts teen accidents declining, distracted driving still a risk

For teenagers in Barnstable County, getting their driver’s license is their ticket to freedom. However, while many teenagers are diligent and safety-conscious, others choose to engage in distracted and reckless driving activities that pose harm to other drivers out on the road. To control the number of teenage accidents in Massachusetts, the state enacted several laws which raised the training requirements for teenage drivers while also increasing the penalties for things like speeding.

As a result of this legislation, the number of accidents involving teenage drivers has dropped by nearly half, according to a report in The Boston Globe. However, while the law has been ultimately successful, its success is not due to teenage drivers driving more safely, but due to the fact that less teenage drivers are now out on the roads. The number of 16 and 17 year olds with driver’s licenses in the state has dropped by nearly a quarter since 2006.

The causes of teenage accidents

Although there may be fewer teenage drivers on the road in Massachusetts, the CDC notes those with licenses still pose a threat to other drivers on the road because teen drivers are:

  • More likely to speed.
  • More likely to not give enough distance between their car and the car ahead of them.
  • More likely to engage in risky driving behaviors.

In addition to these factors, teenagers are also less likely to underestimate dangerous driving situations, like distracted driving. According to, 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 were reported as distracted when the crash occurred. This makes teenagers the largest proportion of distracted drivers compared with other drivers.

Limited ability to handle distractions

While distracted driving is dangerous for drivers of any age, it is particularly dangerous for teenagers. According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, teenage drivers are diligent about safe driving for about the first six months after licensure. However, after these first few months of driving, teens start testing their limits.

The study found that approximately six months after getting their licenses, teens started doing things like eating, texting and adjusting the radio just as much as older drivers in the study did. According to a co-author on the study, being a proficient driver takes hours upon hours of practice. While older drivers may be able to handle these distractions to a greater degree, it is this limited amount of practice for teenagers that make them more susceptible to accidents while driving distracted.

If you were injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, speak with an attorney in your area to find out how you can preserve your rights for proper compensation.