Young drivers ages 16 to 19 years of age have the highest annual crash rates of any other age group, nationwide. Indeed, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for this group is 3 times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over.
Common causes of teen auto accidents include traveling with too many people in the car, lack of seatbelt use, and distracted driving. A closer look at these causes reveals that one in four teens reports either driving or riding in a car without using a seatbelt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that wearing a seatbelt is the number one way to prevent serious injury or death in a motor vehicle accident. Young drivers are also more likely to drive while distracted by texting, playing loud music, or speaking with other passengers.
Additional causes of accidents in this age range include inexperienced driving techniques; traveling late at night or early in the morning; or driving under the influence. Split-second decisions such as driving too fast, overcorrecting after turning, or making sudden turns in intersections or in front of traffic are likely to lead to car accidents. With time, these risks may decrease.
In an effort to protect the safety of young drivers, California enacted laws that greatly restricted driving privileges in 2006. Some of these changes include the “provisional license,” which means that any driver under age 18 must be accompanied by a licensed parent, instructor, or licensed driver who is at least 25 years old when (1) carrying other young passengers or (2) driving from 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Young drivers are also forbidden from using cell phones or other electronic communication devices while driving, which means no texting or talking even if the phone is in “hands free” mode. There are exceptions, such as if the young person has a job that requires using a vehicle and provides a signed note from the employer.
Consequences for violating the terms of the provisional license include a 30-day restriction if there are two or more points for violations, plus increasing levels of suspension and probation based on the levels of infractions.
There are other consequences that may be imposed on parents of teen drivers caught breaking the law. This is especially true if the young driver is involved in a car accident. State law already requires that parents or guardians accept financial responsibility for the new driver by carrying insurance with certain minimums. What is more, a parent of a young driver may be responsible as a registered owner of any vehicle their teenage or young adult child operates. The parent may also be responsible for any consequences that would arise out of letting the young driver use the car in the first place.
For many reasons, it is important that are young drivers observe the rules of the road and that their parents support them in this endeavor. If you have been injured in a auto accident caused by a teen driver, contact experienced personal injury lawyer Barry P. Goldberg today.