Teens look forward to the freedom and independence of their first car. But the first few years of having driving privileges can be incredibly dangerous for novice drivers. In fact, AAA reports motorists who are 16 and 17 have triple the risk of involvement in a deadly crash as opposed to older teens and adults.
Back to school season can be an especially risky time for high school students, as many new, inexperienced motorists increase add to the chaos and congestion in and around school zones. Teens have a tendency to under-appreciate the potential danger of certain situations, such as speeding, disregarding traffic signs and signals, riding in a car packed with peers and consuming drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel. All too often, this ends in tragedy.
The Reasons Teen Drivers Face Greater Danger
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015 an average of six teenagers died every day from motor vehicle injuries. The New York Times explored the dangers of teen driving further. One researcher considered the ages of sixteen and seventeen to be the most dangerous of any life stage, because of the risks of teen driving. She summarized the situation in this manner: “Cars have gotten safer, roads have gotten safer, but teen drivers have not.”
Passengers are a critical problem for teen drivers. The New York Times article reported that adding one non-family passenger to a teen’s vehicle increased the odds of having an accident by forty-four percent. Interestingly, distraction was found to be highest when male teen drivers had male teen passengers in the car. Male drivers with female teen passengers drove more safely.
Distracted driving is another serious problem which has spread rapidly across America with the prevalence of smartphones. Teens are not immune to this trend: Forbes reports on a Governors Highway Safety Association study which found teens to be the largest age group of drivers who were distracted at the time of an accident. While distraction is dangerous for any driver, is particularly problematic for young, inexperienced drivers who are not always prepared to deal with obstacles in the road.
The Graduated Driver’s License Program in Connecticut
In Connecticut, sixteen and seventeen year old teens may obtain a learner’s permit or driver’s license. The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles notes the following legal restrictions for teen drivers:
- For teens with a learner’s permit, no passengers are permitted beyond the parent, guardian or qualified trainer who must accompany the permit holder. Permit holders may not use cell phones or mobile devices (even hands-free devices) while they are operating a vehicle.
- For the first six months a teen holds a driver’s license, no passengers are permitted beyond a licensed driving instructor, a parent or guardian with a valid license, or a person providing driving instruction (who is at least twenty years old, has held a license for four years, and has had no license suspensions for the past four years). For the next six months he or she holds a license, teen drivers are also allowed to transport immediate family members. Teen drivers may not drive between eleven p.m. and five a.m. except in limited circumstances. Teen license holders may also not use cell phones or mobile devices (even hands-free devices) while they are operating a vehicle.
If your teen has been injured on the road, he or she has legal rights which must be protected. Contact an experienced Connecticut auto accident attorney as soon as possible.