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Teen Drivers at Elevated Risk of Brain Injuries in Accidents

Teens are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to driving cars, with over 55,000 teens being seriously injured in car crashes in 2009 and 2010. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm have released a new report showing that many teens suffer serious brain injuries from car crashes.

On the one hand, the survey noted a decline in deaths among teen drivers and passengers. Between 2005 and 2010, there was a 46 percent decline in teen driver deaths and a 41 percent decline in deaths of their passengers. On the other hand, although the rate of deaths is declining, car accidents still remain the number one cause of death among teenagers. And even when a crash is not fatal, resulting head injuries can still be life-changing for teens and their families.

Of the teen drivers and passengers with serious injuries, 30 percent suffered from concussions, traumatic brain injuries or skull fractures. Complications that can arise from brain injuries include:

  • Comas and other states of altered consciousness
  • Infections of the brain or degenerative brain diseases
  • Seizures
  • Cognitive issues such as memory, judgment or learning deficits
  • Nerve damage
  • Behavioral, cognitive, sensory and emotional changes

Treating these conditions and caring for injured teens – which may include life-long care – can prove to be a major burden for families, as well as the health care system. Because of this, researchers suggest that all states implement graduated driver licensing laws. States that already have strict forms of GDL laws have the most success in reducing fatalities and brain injuries among teenage drivers. Such laws typically require hours of supervised driving in a variety of conditions, and restrict nighttime driving, cellphone use and the number of passengers teen drivers may have during their first year of driving.

The survey also suggests that states put more focus on seat belt laws and implement programs directed at teens to increase seat belt use. Seat belts for the teen driver and all passengers can make a major difference in saving lives and preventing brain injuries.

Despite all the precautions, accidents still happen. If you are injured in a car accident, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.