Why does teen driving raise such a high level of concern? Do you remember when you first got your driver’s license? For a young teen, it is more than just a plastic card adorned with their photo; it’s a rite of passage. Their first ticket to both freedom and responsibility.
Yes, driving is an adventure. However, teens are quick to forget the responsibility part of driving. Nor do they fully comprehend the consequences of their actions behind the wheel, or lasting effects of a car accident.
When your teen gets behind the wheel, you have good reason to worry. According to the National Centers for Health, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-20 year-olds.
If your teen has been in a motor vehicle accident, the consequences can be severe for all involved. Depending on the details, your child could be critically injured, or held legally responsible for the injuries of any passengers involved.
Even though adults are considered less risky drivers, they are still capable of negligent behaviors behind the wheel that may harm others. No matter the particulars, a Birmingham personal injury lawyer can help relieve the burden of legal troubles when your teen has been in an auto accident.
Teen Driving Statistics
If you asked all the parents in Bryant-Denny Stadium how many of them handed the keys to the family car to their teen and had their teen wreck the car mere hours later, they could probably pull off a pretty nice wave around the field.
Getting a Driver’s License in Alabama
The earliest a teen can apply for a learner’s permit is when they turn 15. In addition to their birth certificate or social security card, proof of enrollment in school or graduation date is required to get a driver’s license or learning permit in Alabama. Teens must be accompanied by their parent or guardian and pass a written and vision test to receive their permit.
Teens 14 and up may apply for a motor-driven cycle license, but they will also need proof of enrollment or graduation.
After your teen’s 16th birthday, they can apply for their license, if they’ve had their permit for 6 months and have at least 30 hours of practice driving. This license is intermediate, meaning it comes with restrictions.
Sweet 16s are not allowed to drive unless accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 21. They may not have more than one passenger (unless the additional passenger is their parent or guardian), and they may not drive between the hours of midnight and 6 am.
At 17, teen drivers become eligible for an unrestricted license, if they’ve had their restricted license for 6 months with absolutely no violations.
Find the Right Insurance Coverage for Your Teen
On most insurance policies, adding your teen driver is a benefit. You may qualify for additional perks, such as multi-car and good student discounts. When your teen’s ready to go off to college, you’ll want to keep them under your policy – even if they keep the car at home – to keep your benefits active.
If you’ve been getting by on a minimum liability policy, it’s probably a good idea to upgrade to comprehensive or collision coverage since according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers have 3 times as many car accidents per mile as drivers ages 20 and up.
Sometimes it’s better for a teen to have their own policy. If you have a luxury car or the misfortune of your own DUI convictions or violations, the premium for adding your teen driver might be even higher than simply having two separate policies. Remember to compare quotes. It’s a sure way to discover the best, and most affordable, option for your family.
Common Car Accidents Associated with Teen Driving
To become successful drivers, teens need to know the rules of the road, how to safely operate a car and the consequences of not adhering to the law. The biggest factor in crashes involving teen driving lies within their inexperience behind the wheel. They are susceptible to 3 particular types of crashes:
- Rear-end collisions – Due to their tendency to speed and tailgate, crashing into the back of another vehicle is common for teen drivers.
- Road departures – Teens often lack the skill to control the car, recognize when an emergency is happening or use the proper response to avoid them. Front-end collisions with trees or lamp posts may be the frightening end result of leaving the pavement.
- Left-turn collisions – Teen drivers often forget to scan the road ahead, or look to both sides of the road at a stop sign, before turning.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Aside from their lack of skill behind the wheel, accidents caused by teen driving tend to arise from 5 factors:
- Distracted driving accounts for more than 58% of all teen crashes. In Alabama, it’s illegal for teens to use any electronic handheld device while driving.
- Teens, especially males, are more likely to speed and leave shorter stopping distance between cars than experienced drivers. If you notice your teenager has a need for speed, try offering a summer race car driving course as a reward for good performance behind the wheel and in the classroom. (Porsche has a sport driving school in Birmingham.)
- Due to low visibility, fatigue and little driving experience at night, nighttime driving is the perfect combination for a teen to crash. In fact, the chances of being in a crash is 400% higher at night than during the day.
- It’s shocking how often teens forget to buckle up. Remind your teen that wearing their seat belt reduces their chances of being injured in a crash by 50%.
- Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can have deadly consequences for teen drivers and their passengers.
Teens and Driving Under the Influence
The good news is drinking and driving among teenagers has significantly lowered in the past decade. The bad news – it still happens every day in every town across America. Car crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for teens and 25% of those crashes involve a drunk teen driver.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports 1 in 7 teens binge drink, while only 1 in 100 parents believe their teen binge drinks. DUI convictions don’t simply evaporate at the age of 18; they’ll need to disclose their DUI on college applications, financial aid and scholarship entries, as well as job applications.
Talk with your teen about the dangers of underage drinking and driving to help them understand the serious consequences of what could develop into a lifelong addiction. A safety contract is a great tool to promote positive driving habits and avoid the consequences for drinking and driving.
Penalties for a DUI conviction are severe no matter what your age. If your teenager (or young adult child) is arrested for a DUI, you should speak with an attorney to better understand your legal options.
What to Do When Your Teen Has an Accident
When it comes to the journey of life, parents are the strongest role models for positive life choices. In fact, 56% of teenagers rely on their parents to learn how to drive.
If your teen has an accident, first, it’s important to stay calm. A parent seething and screaming in anger is not likely to get far with any teen involved in the incident. If your teen is able to call you, find out where they are and meet them there as soon as possible.
Well before any incident occurs, review steps to take after an accident with your teen. They should:
- pull over to the side of the road (when possible);
- report the accident and call for medical assistance immediately, especially if someone is injured;
- not admit to fault at the scene of the accident;
- cooperate with police when they arrive on the scene; and
- take photos of property damage and injuries.
This is where a motor vehicle accident attorney can be a huge benefit to you. Your attorney can guide both you and your frightened teen through the ordeal, from getting to the doctor to investigating the accident scene to handling issues with insurance adjusters.
The attorneys at Pittman Dutton & Hellums understand that protecting your teen is a tough job. At the most troubling of times, even adults need dedicated advocates to help them back on the road to recovery.
If your teen has been injured in an auto accident, we’d like to help you discover all your legal options. Our case evaluations are always 100% free and at no obligation to you. Call us today at (866) 515-8880 or use the contact form on this page.