The Centers for Disease Control cite motor vehicle crashes as the top cause of death for teens in the United States– more than 1 in 3 deaths in this age group are caused by vehicular accidents. And almost a third of those deaths that were determined to involve alcohol occur between April and June, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
So it’s good timing that May is National Youth Traffic Safety Month, intended to encourage focus on safe driving during this time period. Events such as graduation and prom are important to many of Florida’s teen drivers, but some choose to mark these events with consumption of alcohol or drugs and driving a vehicle.
A 2015 survey conducted by AAA found that 31 percent of teenagers were willing to admit that they, or their friends, had already planned to consume alcohol or use drugs on prom night. The study also revealed the reason many teens will drive drunk rather than making other arrangements to get home– they don’t want to get in trouble with their parents.
Tallahassee first responders held the seventh annual “Operation Prom Night” in 2016. This is a real-world simulation of an alcohol-involved collision presented to high school juniors and seniors. It represents only one of the many ways Florida educators and responsible community leaders try to instill in teen drivers the potentially deadly consequences of drinking, drugs, and driving. You can see a video of the event here.
Prom and graduation time may represent the peak of teen vehicular accidents, but there are problems throughout the year, as these statistics show:
- Each Year over 5,000 youths aged 16-20 will die due to a car accident. 400,000 of them will be injured.
- Teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than other drivers to crash.
- Teenager Drivers are more apt to speed and tailgate.
- 38% of male drivers killed between 15 and 20 years of age were speeding and 24% had been drinking and driving.
- Teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use.
Florida lawmakers, in an effort to address the problem, were the first in the nation to pass a Graduated Driver’s License law, intended to reduce teen fatalities by restricting driving privileges in 3 phases:
- Teens who are at least 15 years old may apply for a Learner’s License, but only after having Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Course, as well as a written, vision, and hearing test. They must also have a signed Parental Consent Form . With the Learner’s License, the teen can only drive during daylight hours during the first three months and until 10 p.m. afterwards, and must always be accompanied by a licensed driver in the front seat. ALWAYS with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat.
- Teens who are at least 16 years old who have held a Learner’s License for at least one year without any traffic convictions earn an intermediate license. At 16, they may drive between 6am and 11pm. At 17, they are allowed to drive between 5am and 1am.
- Only when teens turn 18 are all restrictions removed from their license.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Own Teen
There is no substitute for a parent’s ability to know their children, monitor their activity, and establish boundaries for behavior. Preventing trips in which many friends are in a youth’s car with them as well as monitor cell phone usage to ensure distractions are minimized can be a big help. Letting your teen know you want to come and get them anytime, anywhere rather than having them drive drunk is important– and promising them no repercussions for doing so will help drive home the point.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself
The fact remains that statistics indicate teen drivers are more dangerous than other drivers, and should there be an accident with injuries involving a teen driver, you need a lawyer. It’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an vehicular accident involving a teen.
Your attorney will investigate the safety record of the other driver involved, and whether they have any citations. Your attorney can look at phone records to see if distracted driving may have had a role in the accident. And your attorneys can use medical records to your document injuries and get professional testimony stating what caused the injury and why.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a Florida vehicle accident involving a teen driver?
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a teen driver– the attorneys at Thomas and Pearl want to speak to you.
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