Teen Drivers & Car Crashes
Experienced San Diego Car Accident Attorneys
Every day, newly licensed teen drivers get behind the wheel, excited by the freedom of driving. However, teen drivers are often unaware of the dangers and responsibilities that come with their privileges. Their inexperience in the driver's seat can result in serious injury to themselves and other motorists with whom they share the road.
Every driver has a duty to drive in a way that promotes the safety of themselves, their passengers, other drivers on the road, and surrounding pedestrians. They are legally required to be attentive and competent; unfortunately, this does not always bear out in everyday life. Teens, who overestimate their own invincibility and are less capable of accurate risk assessment, often endanger the lives of many through reckless driving.
If you've been injured in a car accident, contact us at (619) 215-1488 to schedule a free consultation.
Perils of Teenage Drivers
No matter how young the driver, injured car crash victims have the right to seek compensation from negligent parties. In the case of minors, parents are often legally and practically responsible for ensuring their child is a competent driver. If their teen causes an accident, the parents’ negligence may also factor into the case.
While young drivers only make up around 15% of the nation’s population, incidents involving young drivers made up about 30% of the total cost of vehicle injuries for males and females. In total, the injury costs for young drivers amount to approximately $25 billion a year. Teen driving statistics grow even worse when they drive with other teen passengers, who provide an extra distraction for their peers alongside texting or calling.
Teenage drivers often cause car accidents due to:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Inexperience such as underestimating stopping distances or not knowing how to react
- Distracted driving such as cellphone use, texting while driving, and talking to passengers
- General lack of awareness of surroundings and not watching carefully for pedestrians or cyclists
California allows teens age 16 and older to obtain a driver's license after passing a driver's education course, holding a learner's permit for at least six months, and meeting certain behind-the-wheel driving requirements. Despite these educational requirements and training, 16- to 19-year-old drivers are almost 4 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than more experienced drivers. If you were injured, our firm can help.
Teens & Reckless Driving: Provisional Licenses
One Lieutenant in the San Diego Sheriff's Department's Traffic Division stated that unnecessary risk-taking is one of the reasons the provisional license rules exist. Provisional license laws exist to prevent teen drivers from facing situations that challenge their level of driving ability. The restriction on teen passengers stems from research that shows the likelihood of an accident rises dramatically in the presence of other teens.
Whether that increase is the result of distraction or of teens goading each other into dangerous driving is not clear. Whatever the reason, young drivers often do not respond well to teen passengers.
To be effective, provisional license laws need the cooperation and awareness of parents and guardians. The California DMV offers a free parent-teen handbook that helps parents teach their children safe driving practices. It teaches parents about the risks that teen drivers face. It helps parents provide the instruction and atmosphere to allow teens to get through the most dangerous year of their driving lives—their first year as licensed drivers.
Fewer Teen Traffic Fatalities, But More Texting While Driving
The federal government recently attempted to gather information from teenage drivers in an effort to understand how common distracted driving is and what other dangerous behaviors teens exhibit while behind the wheel. For the most part, the results confirm previous speculation about instances of teens texting while driving.
Data collected showed that more than 57 percent of high school seniors and 43 percent of high school juniors have texted or sent emails while driving in the last month.
In addition to texting while driving, the survey asked teens about their other habits. The good news is more teens wear seat belts than before; only about 8% of all teens surveyed said they never or rarely use seat belts. Additionally, fewer teens admitted to driving while intoxicated or riding with a driver who had been drinking.
While traffic accidents are the number one cause of fatalities among teenagers, the numbers of teen deaths from car accidents has been falling—3,100 teens died in motor vehicle crashes in 2009, which is down almost 44% since 1999. For the survey, the CDC polled more than 15,000 high school students across the country.
Contact Experienced San Diego Car Accident Lawyers
Before a teen driver gets his or her driver's license, a parent or guardian must accept liability for any accident or injury the teenage driver may cause. While you may feel unsure about seeking legal action against a negligent minor, keep in mind that the parents are more likely at fault. In addition, seeking compensation is not punitive or vindictive—it is a necessary part of civil law. It allows victims to receive the resources they need to move forward, whether their needs are medical, mental, or financial. If you need compensation, we at The McClellan Law Firm can help you move forward and receive the resources you need with the power of the law. We have achieved million-dollar verdicts and settlements for more than 110 of our clients. Call to see what we can do for you.