What Are the Responsibilities of Parents of Teen Drivers?
As a parent, putting your teenager behind the wheel of a car can be both a good thing and a bad thing. On the upside, you can now spend your time doing other things than driving your teenager around to school and extracurricular activities. On the downside, it is difficult not to worry, considering the current teen driver crash statistics.
What Is Parental Liability for Teen Auto Accidents?
In California, parents who sign for a teenager’s driver’s license are strictly liable for damages caused by that teen driver behind the wheel. If you sign for your child’s license to drive, you are liable for any motor vehicle injuries caused by your child, in your vehicle or any other vehicle, until your child reaches the age of 18 or you withdraw your support for your child’s driver’s license. Strict liability means the injured party is not required to prove negligence on your part, but simply that you allowed your child to drive a vehicle.
Are Teens More Likely to Cause Accidents?
Teen drivers pose a real threat on America’s roadways. Drivers ages 16 to 19 have a higher risk of a crash than any other age group, as reported by CDC. In fact, they are nearly three times more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers ages 20 and older. In the most recent year for which statistics are available:
- Nearly 2,400 teens ages 13 to 19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S.
- Approximately 258,000 were treated in emergency rooms for crash injuries.
- Every day, approximately seven teenagers were killed in traffic crashes and hundreds more were injured.
- The motor vehicle fatality rate for male drivers ages 16 to 19 was more than two times higher than the fatality rate for females of the same age.
- The risk of a crash for unsupervised teen drivers increases with each additional teen or young adult passenger in the vehicle.
What Are the Contributing Factors to Teen Driver Crashes?
Several factors contribute to the higher risk of accidents involving teen drivers, including:
- Driver inexperience: Teens who are new to driving are more likely to fail to recognize or underestimate dangerous situations. They are also more likely to make critical driving decision errors.
- Night and weekend driving: More accidents happen at night among drivers of all ages, but particularly teens. Drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely to be involved in fatal nighttime crashes than drivers 30 to 59 years of age. In a recent year, 52% of motor vehicle crash deaths among teens ages 13 to 19 occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
- Distracted driving: Teenagers have a high rate of texting or using electronic devices while driving.
- Speeding and tailgating: Teens are more likely to speed and follow too closely than older drivers.
- Drug and alcohol use: Teen drivers have a much higher risk of being involved in a crash than older drivers with the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Marijuana and other drugs can be equally dangerous when teenagers are behind the wheel.
What Can Parents of Teen Drivers Do?
As a parent, you can supervise when your child drives and under what circumstances. You can also talk to your child about safe driving practices and the risks teen drivers face.
If a teen driver has injured you, speak with an attorney as soon as possible. The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV has extensive experience representing individuals in car accident cases. Contact the firm at (562) 901-0840 or toll-free at (888) 454-5569 to get an experienced Long Beach personal injury lawyer on your side.