Auto Accident Settlement
What to Know About Car Accidents Involving Teenage Drivers
It’s perhaps the most exciting time in a Florida teenager’s life: getting behind the wheel for the first time. It is also one of the most stressful for their parents. In today’s fast-paced world, more and more teens are taking on the enormous responsibility of driving themselves from one place to another. Whether they’re going to after-school activities or a part-time job, young people are faced with the same responsibilities as any other driver trying to get from here to there.
Unfortunately, that’s partly why it’s so stressful for parents. Teens lack the years of experience and maturity while at the same time can get caught up in the joy of freedom. It’s enough to make every parent worry about their child nearly every time they drive. And even the most conscientious and careful young drivers may find themselves in an accident because, well, accidents happen.
Acquiring the services of a quality car accident attorney can be a godsend at this time, but it behooves both parents and teens — as well as other drivers — to know the facts about teenage drivers.
How Dangerous Is Driving For Teens?
According to studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the most dangerous age for a driver is the first year they get their license. Data shows that the crash rate for 16 and 17-year-olds is as much as one-and-a-half higher per mile than 18 and 19-year-olds.
Common causes for accidents among teens include:
- Distracted driving, texting while driving, etc.
- Impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs
- Driving while drowsy or overtired
For the most part, teens face the same dangers as adults when they focus on the road. However, teenagers lack the experience of an older driver — and they often lack the maturity of their grown-up counterparts. Speeding is fun, teens say, or they may be distracted by talking with their passengers or texting on their cell phones. Nearly 15% of all crashes are caused by interacting with other passengers, and cell phone use accounts for a further 12%.
It’s already a given that no one should drive drunk or on drugs, but teenagers who choose to drive under the influence compound their dangers. They lack the tolerance adults have and often think their youth brings immunity and immortality. Nearly one-fourth of all accidents involving teenage drivers involve impaired driving, usually due to alcohol. Male drivers are more prone to accidents due to impaired, 27% as opposed to 15% for females.
What Can Parents Do?
As with almost everything else in a young person’s life, lifelong habits both good and bad start young. Encourage your teen to obey all traffic laws, teach safe-driving habits, encourage seatbelt use, and be aware that nearly 14% of all teens admit to binge drinking.
If your child finds themselves too impaired to drive home safely, remember the irritation you might feel at their shenanigans is minuscule to the heartbreak of losing them to a drunk-driving accident. Tell them to call you, and keep them off the road.
Other things you can do include:
- Educate your teen on safe-driving techniques, such as seat belt use, awareness of blind spots when passing, etc.
- Limit time behind the wheel within reason
- Limit the areas they are permitted to drive to just the necessary places
- Limit the number of passengers
- Be open in communication about the dangers of drunk or impaired driving
- Look into smartphone apps that limit their phone use while driving
- Give them plenty of time to get supervised practice before and after they get their license
- Share vehicles and avoid automobiles that can pose higher risks, such as SUVs, sports cars, etc.
What About Insurance?
As long as there’s adult supervision, teenagers up to the age of 18 are automatically included in their parents’ or guardians’ insurance. However, once they’re on the own, they need to be covered under an insurance policy in their own name. The state of Florida does not differentiate between adult and teenager when it comes to auto accidents, and a teenager that is the cause of an accident will be responsible for the consequences.
However, parents can be held financially responsible for the actions of their teens behind the wheel. Unless they’re emancipated or in other special circumstances, when they sign for their driver’s license, their parents take the responsibility. Most insurance companies allow for family rates, or parents can get their teen their own insurance policy, allowing for higher coverage.
Otherwise, insurance for teenagers is the same for adult drivers. Florida is a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) state and also requires Property Damage Liability (PDL). A licensed driver must have at least $10,000 in coverage for each, whether they have their own policies or are covered as part of a family policy.
Hopefully, Your Teen Driver Won’t Need a Car Accident Attorney
Exciting and stressful for kids and their parents alike, the first time a teenager gets behind the wheel and accepts the responsibility all drivers share is a watershed moment in the life of any family. Communication and trust from parents is the most important gift a new driver can receive, and a little forethought by both parties will reduce the possibility of a car accident.
Unfortunately, accidents happen to even the most conscientious drivers, and sometimes dealing with other drivers or insurance companies is beyond even those most involved parents or responsible kids. That’s where the attorneys at the firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd come in. We have five locations throughout the Treasure Coast and will bring all our experience and resources to help you or your teen get the compensation you need. Give us a call at 866-460-1990 for a free consultation or contact us online today.
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