As we come together to celebrate International Youth Day on August 12, 2023, it’s crucial to address a pressing issue that disproportionately affects our youth: motor vehicle accidents. According to a report by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), young people, defined as individuals aged 15 to 24, are overrepresented in serious road crashes in Canada. This issue is not just a road safety concern, but a significant public health problem as well.
Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death among young people, surpassing other causes such as suicide and non-transport accidents. In 2004, road crashes accounted for about one-third of all deaths among teens and young adults. Furthermore, these collisions are the leading cause of hospital admissions among youth and the second leading cause of emergency room visits.
The statistics are sobering. Over 700 young people are killed each year in road crashes in Canada, and a further 50,000 are injured, many seriously. These numbers include approximately 350 teens aged 15-19 and 350 young adults aged 20-24. This overrepresentation in road crashes underscores the need for effective solutions to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries among our youth.
The majority of these deaths and injuries occur when young people are drivers or passengers. Young males are more likely to be killed or injured as drivers, while young females are more likely to be killed or injured as passengers. Furthermore, when young people are passengers, they are much more likely to be in a vehicle driven by another young person.
There are several factors contributing to these accidents among youth. Common causes include:
- Inexperience: Novice drivers lack the experience needed to handle various road conditions, traffic scenarios, and unexpected situations, increasing their risk of accidents.
- Distracted Driving: The use of mobile phones and other distractions while driving diverts attention from the road, leading to impaired reaction times and increased accident risk.
- Speeding: Young drivers often underestimate the dangers of speeding, which reduces their ability to react to hazards and increases the severity of accidents.
- Impaired Driving: Alcohol, drugs, and other substances impair a driver’s judgment and coordination, significantly increasing the likelihood of accidents.
- Lack of Seat Belt Use: Failing to use seat belts or ensuring passengers do the same increases the risk of severe injuries or fatalities in case of an accident.
- Nighttime Driving: Many accidents involving young drivers occur during the nighttime when visibility is reduced and the risk of fatigue-related accidents is higher.
- Peer Pressure: Young drivers might engage in risky behaviors due to peer pressure or a desire to impress friends, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Despite significant improvements made in the 1980s and 1990s, progress in reducing the crash risk for teen and young adult drivers appears to have stalled in recent years, particularly since the beginning of the new millennium. This stagnation highlights the need for new and improved prevention efforts.
As a personal injury law firm, we witness the devastating impact of these statistics firsthand. We see the pain and suffering that these accidents cause, not just to the victims, but to their families and communities as well. It’s a reminder that behind every statistic is a young life full of potential, tragically cut short or forever altered.
On this International Youth Day, let’s renew our commitment to safeguarding our youth. Let’s advocate for effective measures such as graduated driver licensing and comprehensive driver education for novice drivers. Let’s promote safe driving habits and responsible behavior on the road.
But most importantly, let’s remember that the safety of our youth is a collective responsibility. It requires the concerted efforts of not just policymakers and law enforcement, but also parents, educators, and the young people themselves. Together, we can create a safer future for our youth, one where they can reach their full potential without the threat of a preventable road accident.
In conclusion, while the statistics are alarming, they also serve as a call to action. They remind us that we can and must do better. As we celebrate our youth on this special day, let’s also commit to protecting them. After all, they are not just our future; they are our present.
Happy International Youth Day! Let’s make every journey a safe one.
The ability to make a meaningful change in people’s lives is what attracts Kanon to injury law. For Kanon, the clients’ right to fair compensation is the pillar of his deep commitment to improving the lives of injured persons and their families. Kanon started at Bergeron Clifford as a summer student learning the ins and outs of injury law. He then completed his articles at our firm before being called to the Ontario bar in 2020.