Teen Drivers & Car Accidents
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In Florida, a person is eligible to start driving at the age of 15 with a temporary permit, presuming that their parent or guardian has been assigned for their learner’s permit at that time. A person has to be 15 years old in order to get their driver’s education and receive a temporary permit. A learner’s permit is assigned for at least an entire year, and an individual is eligible to take their driving test when they turn 16.
Every driver in the Sunshine State is obligated to pass both a written test and a practical, on-road test in order to get their license. They must also have proof of insurance. A person can be granted their driving privileges as soon as they have passed the written portion and practical portion of their test, and once they have an appropriate level of experience.
Unfortunately, these tests may do little to prepare teens and newer drivers for the dangers of the road as this group of drivers is more likely to be involved in a car accident than any other group. This fact is, at least in part, due to their lack of experience behind the wheel.
Parents of a teen who has been injured in a car accident, or who has injured another person due to reckless driving, should look for an accident attorney to help them build their case. Inexperience should not result in less on an insurance claim, and a skilled Tampa car accident lawyer will be able to defend your rights throughout your case.
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Top 6 Causes of Teen Driver Car Accidents & Fatalities
While the reasons behind teen driver accidents can vary, the most common examples include:
- Inexperience. A novice driver has limited experience. Age is not a factor in determining whether they are a novice driver, but most teenagers are considered novice drivers because they haven’t had much experience behind the wheel. Lack of experience poses the greatest risk to teenage drivers. An experienced driver is often better equipped to avoid an accident, and knows what to do when they encounter hazards on the road.
- Intoxication. While driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous for drivers of all ages, teens are especially at risk for this deadly behavior due to a combination of factors—from peer pressure to their driver inexperience to their lower alcohol tolerance level compared to adults. It’s estimated that as much as 1 in 4 fatal teen car accidents are the result of drinking and driving.
- Aggression and recklessness. Teens are more likely to drive recklessly by speeding, illegally turning, tailgating, street racing, and failing to recognize the dangers of certain road conditions. Young male drivers are especially prone to drive aggressively and ignore defensive driving tactics.
- Distractions. Injuries are common when there are too many passengers in a vehicle and younger drivers are easily distracted while they are driving a crowded vehicle. Cell phone use such as texting and driving is more common in teen driving accidents as well. Research has found that dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen’s risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times.
- Drowsiness. Teens are often busy with school, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and hanging out with their friends. This full schedule can sometimes result in a lack of sufficient sleep, leading to drowsy driving which impacts their alertness, attention, reaction time, judgement, and decision-making abilities when behind the wheel.
- Ignoring seatbelts. Despite the fact that seatbelts significantly reduce the risk of fatality in car accidents, teens often endanger themselves and others by not wearing their seatbelt. In fact, compared to other age groups, teens reportedly have the lowest rate of proper seat belt usage.
Teen Driver Car Accident Statistics & Facts
- Nearly 60 percent of all fatalities in teen car crashes occur between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., despite significantly fewer drivers being out on the road. In 2016, 49% of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight, and 53% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
- The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
- In 2016, 15% of drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher.
- Despite a 46-percent decline in driver fatalities of 15- to 18-year-olds between 2007 and 2016, teens are still significantly overrepresented in fatal crashes.
- In 2017, only 59% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding as passengers. In 2016, a total of 818 teen (15- to 18-year-old) drivers and 569 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and 58 percent of those passengers were NOT wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash.
- In 2016, 2,433 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 292,742 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes. That means that six teens died every day due to motor vehicle crashes and hundreds more were injured.
- In 2016, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers ages 16 to 19 was double that of their female counterparts. Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2016, 32% were speeding at the time of the crash and 21% had been drinking.
Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html, https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving
How Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Driver Accidents
While unfortunately there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of a teen driver behaving irresponsibly behind the wheel, parents can (and should) take certain preventative actions to ensure that their teen is capable of operating their motor vehicle safely. Just because they have a driver’s license doesn’t mean they are capable of safely operating a vehicle by themselves, or at all hours. It can take some time and practice to learn how to drive safely at night, and some new drivers shouldn’t drive during rush hour traffic.
Here are a some ideas on how other parents teach their children about the dangers of driving and help prevent more teen driver accidents:
- Have your teen sign a contract that they will not get into a vehicle when they or the driver have been drinking. Consider hanging the contract by the car keys or near the front door.
- Set a curfew to avoid nighttime driving.
- Provide at least 30 hours of supervised driving practice in a variety of locations and times of day.
- Start talking to your teen early on about the dangers of texting and driving, drinking and driving, rules and responsibilities of the road, and other important topics.
- Restrict the number of passengers your teen can have in the car while they’re driving.
- Set clear consequences and penalties for teens who break your driving rules.
- Wait to buy your teen a new car. Studies show that teen drivers are less likely to speed when they drive the family vehicle, compared to driving their own car.
- Enforce a regular bedtime and limit the use of electronic devices before bed to make sure your teen gets sufficient sleep at night.
But perhaps the most important advice for parents of teen drivers is to set a good example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your teen fully understands the risks associated with driving a vehicle, and this starts with being a positive role model.
Teen Driver Accident Liability in Florida
When a driver causes an auto accident in Tampa, they may be found liable for the crash. The owner of the vehicle may also be liable, because they provided a “dangerous instrumentality” to an individual who may not have been capable of operating that vehicle safely. Teen drivers get no special treatment here.
This means that, generally speaking, it is possible in Florida for a parent to be held at least partially at fault for an accident in which their teenage child was responsible.
Florida is a no-fault state, meaning in the event of a minor car accident, each driver must file a claim with their own insurance company (not the other driver’s insurance company), under their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP covers you, your children and certain other passengers for up to $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage coverage.
In the case of a car accident that causes serious, permanent or catastrophic injury, however, damages can go beyond PIP coverage and a claimant may decide to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. In such cases, comparative negligence is the law in Florida—and if your teen driver is assigned a percentage of fault for the accident, then you (the parent) can be on the hook for financial damages such as out-of-pocket expenses or insurance premium increases.
Contact a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer
Allowing your teen to drive can be a scary decision as a parent. Knowing the accident statistics and that you can be held liable for your teen’s mistakes can make it even more frightening to let them get behind the wheel.
If you’re a parent of a teen who has been injured in a car accident or harmed someone else due to reckless driving, you should look for a Tampa injury attorney who has experience handling insurance claims involving young drivers. Insurance companies often fight to avoid paying full compensation on accident claims, and may try to use the driver’s lack of experience against them. At Tragos, Sartes & Tragos, our lawyers will work to protect your rights, regardless of the driver’s age or experience behind the wheel.
We can make this guarantee because we’ve been able to secure positive outcomes for past clients with similar cases:
- $400,000 settlement for client who was rear-ended and sustained a disc herniation requiring spinal surgery.
- $300,000 settlement for client who suffered a broken bone in her wrist as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
- Confidential multiple policy limit settlement for 16-year-old client who was t-boned by a passing motorist while driving home from school.
Not all cases have such high recoveries as the ones mentioned above. You shouldn’t assume that your case will get the same results. Instead, reach out to one of our Tampa car accident lawyers to see how much your case is worth. Don’t delay — time may be running out to build your case.