Getting a driver’s license is an important rite of passage for most teens. It allows them greater freedom and independence, as they can drive themselves to school, jobs, and social outings without relying on mom and dad. For parents, knowing your teen is out on the road can result in sleepless nights worrying about their safety. These concerns are valid. Teen car accidents are a common occurrence and can result in serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. Not only do these crashes and collisions jeopardize their safety, but they put others on the road at risk.
Dangers Posed by Teen Drivers
Residents are still reeling from a recent car accident in Fort Myers which left a group of local teenagers suffering serious injuries. According to a January 2020 report by the News-Press, the accident occurred shortly after 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, at the corner of Three Oaks and Estero parkways. A group of four teenagers in a 2012 Honda Civic were headed southbound on Three Oaks when they disregarded a red light to make a turn.
A 44-year-old Fort Myers resident driving in the opposing lane collided with their vehicle as a result. He and all of the passengers in the Honda suffered injuries and were taken to local hospitals. The teen driver responsible for the crash was listed as being in critical condition.
Unfortunately, teen driving-related car accidents are common both in our area and throughout Florida. According to statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), while young people under the age of 19 represent less than 5% of drivers on the road, they are responsible for nearly 20% of car crashes and injuries. There are two common factors which are frequently too blame:
- Due to their age, teenagers lack the experience of older drivers. This means they are less likely to respond appropriately to unexpected events and sudden changes in traffic, road, or weather conditions.
- Teenagers generally lack the maturity of older adults. This makes them more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviors, increasing car accident risks.
Common Causes Of Teen Car Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and disability among teens. Reckless driving behaviors are often too blame. Among the most common causes of teen car accidents include:
- Speeding and driving too fast for conditions: Not only does this increase teen car accident risks, but it also increases the likelihood of fatal injuries.
- Disregarding traffic signs and signals: Teens are more likely to engage in red-light running and to disregard stop signs or other traffic signals.
- Distracted driving: Talking on cellphones, texting, and taking pictures while driving are common problems among teen drivers.
- Driving under the influence: The CDC reports that alcohol is a leading factor in nearly 20 percent of all teen car accidents.
- Drowsy driving: Teens keep busy schedules and often fail to get the proper rest they need. Being excessively tired behind the wheel has the same types of impact on vision, judgment, coordination, and general driving abilities as does driving under the influence.
Preventing Car Accidents Involving Teen Drivers in Florida
In light of the dangers posed by teen drivers both to themselves, their passengers, and others on the road, the Florida Statutes provide stricter licensing requirements for teenagers. These include:
- Learner’s Permits: Teen drivers must obtain a learner’s permit, which is in effect for 12 months or until their 18th birthday, whichever comes first. This requires them to have a licensed driver over the age of 21 with them at all times. It also requires 50 hours of supervised driving time. For the first three months, they are prohibited from driving at night, which is when teen car accidents are most likely to occur.
- Graduated Licensing: Florida uses a graduated licensing system, which protects teens while they gain driving experience. At 16, they are prohibited from driving between the hours of 11 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. unless they are going to work or have an older, licensed driver with them. These hours get extended once they turn 17, but there are still heavy restrictions in place.
- Stricter Penalties for Driving Infractions: Teens can have their license restricted if they get six or more points for traffic violations over the course of a year. If they get a moving violation while holding a Learner’s Permit, their ability to obtain a regular driver’s license is delayed. When it comes to drinking while driving, Florida has a zero-tolerance policy. Driving privileges are suspended for six months to one year if they operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .02 or greater.
How Parents Can Prevent Teen Car Accidents
Parents have a moral duty to model good driving behavior for teens and legal duty to oversee their behavior on the road. A Parental Consent Form must be signed in order for a teen to obtain a license or learner’s permit. Parents can and should rescind their consent if they have reason to believe their teen is a danger to themselves or others on the road. Other steps parents can take to prevent teen car accidents include:
- Limit the amount of time your teen is allowed to drive, particularly at night and on weekends.
- Limit the number of passengers they have in their vehicle. The more passengers, the more likely teen car accidents are likely to happen.
- Be aware of where they are traveling and limit their driving on major roads or highways.
- Initiate an agreement where they call you for a ride rather than driving while impaired.
Our Fort Myers Car Accident Attorneys are Here to Help
When teen driver-related car accidents happen, Bernardo Law Firm helps victims get the compensation they need to recover in a claim. To discuss the options in your case, call or contact our Fort Myers car accident attorney and request a consultation today.