Think back to the time you obtained your driver’s license for the very first time. It probably brought on a feeling of true independence. But with independence also comes responsibility, something that teen drivers are often lacking.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that “teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience. They speed, make mistakes, and get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car.”
The statistics paint a somber picture for parents worried about their teen driver venturing out onto the road. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2020, 2,800 teens in the U.S. ages 13-19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. That means that every day, about eight teens died due to a car accident and hundreds more were injured.
What’s worse is that teens, as both passengers and drivers, have the lowest rate of seat belt use of any age group. Seat belts are proven to keep kids safe and it’s the action they refuse to take.
Now that it’s back to school season, what can you do as a parent to keep your child safe while driving?! Start by knowing the teen driver laws in your area as the laws and restrictions can vary from state to state. All 50 states have a three-stage graduated driver licensing (GDL) system that helps teen drivers develop skills and experience before receiving their official license. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are three stages to the program:
- Learner’s permit: Requires up to 50 hours of driving practice with an experienced driver.
- Intermediate license: Allows for driving with restrictions like nighttime driving or driving with other teens in the car.
- Full license: Earns the driver full road privileges.
Specific laws for teen drivers in Louisiana are as follows:
- Minimum age to begin the GDL program: 15 years old
- Duration of the learner stage: 6 months
- Required number of supervised driving hours: 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night
- Nighttime driving restriction: During the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
- Passenger restriction (family members are exempt unless otherwise noted): No more than one passenger under 21 years old between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. Otherwise no other restrictions.
- Minimum age for full-privilege driving: 17 years old
- Cell phone or electronics usage: Not permitted before full driver’s license
The GDL laws can reduce the chance of a crash by as much as 50 percent. It’s also important to know the top 6 factors that put teen drivers at risk:
- Lack of experience: Teens may not possess the necessary skills to handle unexpected situations or make split-second decisions, making them more vulnerable to accidents.
- Poor decision-making: Because a teenager’s brain is still developing, they may engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, or distracted driving without fully comprehending the potential consequences.
- Distracted driving: Texting, chatting, and using social media can all steal a teen’s attention from their driving. This is a serious problem since distracted driving is now the number one cause of car accidents in the U.S.
- Peer pressure: Teens are more likely to take risks and engage in dangerous driving habits when friends are riding with them. This social influence can lead to distractions and reckless driving, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
- Skipping the seat belt: This behavior significantly increases the risk of serious injury, even in relatively minor accidents.
- Impaired or drunk driving: The dangers of drunk driving are well established. However, teens continue experimenting with alcohol and drugs at an alarming rate—even when driving.
Keep Your Teen Driver Safe On the Road
Parents are key to keeping teens safe on the road. Some studies show that parental monitoring and involvement can help reduce risky driving behaviors. Of course, accidents can still happen now matter how careful your teen is. If someone you love is injured in an accident and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.