We all remember the day we received our driver’s license, and we are all excited and concerned when a teenager close to us begins to drive. Driving is a privilege and safety must always be our primary concern. The truth is that inexperienced teen drivers can pose a serious risk to themselves and others on the road, not only in Rhode Island but wherever they drive. Not only are young drivers less experienced, studies have shown that they often engage in riskier behavior than adult drivers.
The number of teen drivers who cause car accidents that result in serious injuries or death – to themselves, their passengers and others on the road – have reached staggering levels nationwide. The tragic statistics below highlight the problem.
Teen Driving Facts
The crash rate per mile driven by teen drivers ages 16-19 is three times higher than the rate for older drivers. Teen drivers accounted for 8% of all vehicle crash deaths in the country in a recent year. Teenage boys accounted for 1,855 deaths from car accidents while 965 teenage girls died in car accidents. Motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 13-19 in the United States. More than half of fatal teen driver accidents involved another vehicle. June and July are the months with the highest number of accidents involving teen drivers. There were 457 passenger deaths for drivers ages 16-19 in a recent year. Finally, teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use of any age group.
Teenage drivers who engage in risky behaviors behind the wheel pose serious risks to themselves, their passengers and others who share the road with them. Some of the dangerous practices that lead to accidents caused by teenage drivers include:
- Texting while driving.
- Cell phone use behind the wheel.
- Alcohol or drug impairment.
- Distractions caused by other teens in the car.
- Inexperience with how to react to hazardous situations.
- Nighttime driving.
- Drowsy driving.
- Reckless driving.
What Parents Can Do
Making sure your son or daughter drives safely is difficult. Once he or she leaves a parent’s protective watch, the teen’s driving conduct can change, particularly when other young people are in the vehicle. A tendency to take risks is inherent in young people, and talk of driving deaths may seem exaggerated. Unfortunately, too many teens have a sense of invincibility and a general feeling that “it won’t happen to me.”
If you have a teen driver in your family, there are some things you can do to teach them the importance of safety and to instill in them values that will serve them, after they leave your watchful care. Safety tips and a strong sense of self that does not succumb to peer pressure can help prevent serious teen driving accidents.
First, remember that you, the adult, are setting the example, and you should avoid dangerous driving behaviors since your teenager may copy your bad habits. Be sure that you, yourself, are being a safe and respectful driver, and never text while driving, speed, ignore traffic signals or drive aggressively. These habits can be transferred to your teen driver who has far less experience than you do.
Secondly, there are apps you can download that can disable the cellphone while your son or daughter is driving. This is recommended. If the phone rings or signals a text, many teenagers (and adults) will compulsively pick it up. An app can prevent the phone from ringing or signaling that there is a new text, while letting the caller or sender know that the recipient is unavailable.
Third, make sure your teen driver attends a reputable driving school rather than the least expensive – it can make a critical difference.
Graduated Licensing: What R.I. Lawmakers Are Doing to Help Keep Teens Safer
Rhode Island has a three-stage graduated licensing process which is geared to give teen drivers the experience they need before allowing unrestricted driving privileges. All drivers under 18 are required to complete a 33-hour driver’s education course.
The first stage is a learner’s permit that allows teens to drive under supervision for a minimum of six months. They are required to complete 50 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours of nighttime driving.
Once teens have reached the second stage, they receive a limited provisional license that allows them to drive alone, but there are restrictions. No teen driver with this form of license can drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., and they cannot drive with more than one passenger under the age of 21.
Teen drivers in Rhode Island can receive an unrestricted license when they are 17 years and 6 months old.
Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use a cell phone, either hands-free or handheld.
Unfortunately, not everyone follows the law. If a teenager has dangerous driving habits, everyone is at risk. A teenage driver who engages in risky driving practices may cause death or injury to passengers in the vehicle, other motorists, pedestrians or cyclists. These accidents are avoidable, and at-fault teen drivers may be held legally responsible for the damage they cause.
Marasco & Nesselbush Teen Driving Accident Attorneys
The Rhode Island car accident attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush are blessed with years of legal experience in personal injury law. Everyday, we help people file, pursue and litigate auto accident and auto insurance claims. We cannot undo what has happened, but we can make sure that justice is served. Our attorneys are familiar with the many tactics and tricks insurance companies use to deny you all the compensation you deserve.
Please contact our firm today to find out more about how we can help you. We are committed to achieving extraordinary results for each of our clients.