Until they gain more experience behind the wheel, driving is particularly dangerous for teenagers, and others on the road may also be at risk.

It's an exciting time in the life of nearly every teenager in Illinois and across the U.S.: that unforgettable day when he or she first gets a driver's license. This milestone is important not only because it gives a teen increased freedom and independence, but it gives him or her the chance to begin gaining real-life experience behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, getting a driver's license also dramatically increases the dangers for teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the number one cause of fatal injuries for teenagers in the U.S. A large reason for this is inexperience: New drivers lack the time and experience behind the wheel that is needed to recognize and avoid driving hazards, as well as to make split-second decisions that can save their lives. This is why each state, including Illinois, has graduated driver licensing laws in place to give teenagers the chance to increase their skills under supervision before being allowed to drive on their own.

Distraction and other factors common to teen drivers

Still, even with months of experience, there are many factors common to younger drivers that can result in preventable accidents or injuries. These include:

•· Alcohol-impaired driving

•· Reckless driving or speeding

•· Not wearing seatbelts

•· Driving at night

•· Distracted driving

In fact, driver distraction, including texting while driving and talking on a cellphone, is particularly dangerous to teenagers. National General Insurance says that the use of handheld devices increase a teenager's risk of being in an accident by four times. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, texting and driving and using a handheld device are illegal in Illinois.

The cause of an accident last October in Edwardsville was unknown, but the results were no less tragic. According to Fox 2 Now, a 16-year-old boy was driving south on Illinois Route 157 when he lost control, moved into oncoming traffic and collided with an SUV. A woman in the SUV and the teenage driver were hospitalized, while the teenage boy's 16-year-old passenger died at the scene.

Contacting an attorney

The above incident illustrates how serious an accident involving a teenager can be, and how quickly one can happen. In addition, a car accident can take a huge financial and emotional toll on a family. If you or a loved one were hurt in an crash that was caused by a negligent, distracted or intoxicated young driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to see if you may be eligible for compensation.

Keywords: teen driver, auto accident