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Safe Driving For Teenagers

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Receiving a driver’s license is an important rite of passage. However, having this license does not guarantee that a young driver will drive safely. Even the newest drivers should be committed to helping keep our community safe. Some of the following strategies for safe driving for teenagers may help your teens avoid dangers on the road and safely arrive at their destinations. If you have been injured in an accident involving an inexperienced driver, consider contacting an attorney at Steelman Gaunt Crowley for a free case review by calling (573) 341-8336.

Dangers of Teen Drivers

The following statistics showcase the dangers of teen drivers:

  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, some teens are not developmentally ready to take on the responsibility of driving. While teens represent approximately 7 percent of all licensed drivers, they are responsible for $10 billion in accident-related injuries each year, 11 percent of the total.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2,276 people died in motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers in 2020.
  • The National Safety Council states that teen drivers have problems judging gaps in traffic, turning safely, and driving an appropriate speed for traffic and weather conditions. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental teen deaths.
  • The CDC also reports that drivers aged 16 to 19 have a fatal crash rate per mile driven that is nearly three times as high as drivers 20 and older.
  • The leading causes of teen crashes include driver inexperience, driving with other young passengers, nighttime driving, and distracted driving.

If you are involved in a crash with a young driver, inexperience may have played a role. An experienced lawyer from Steelman Gaunt Crowley may be able to review the circumstances surrounding the accident and help determine if you might have a case.

Graduated Driver’s Licensing Programs

In an effort to reduce the dangers involved in teenage driving, many states have adopted graduated driver’s licensing programs. According to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), these systems impose some restrictions on young drivers but remove those constraints as the drivers gain valuable driving experience and demonstrate competence behind the wheel. The DOT notes that graduated driver’s licensing programs may help reduce fatal teen crashes. Some of the features of these programs include:

  • Increased hours of supervised driving
  • Additional driving restrictions
  • Higher minimum age requirements 
  • Penalties for violations, tickets, or accidents

The Missouri Department of Revenue describes the state’s graduated driver license program as beginning with the instruction permit, graduating to the intermediate license, and then moving on to the under 21 full driver license.

Instruction Permit

Drivers as young as 15 can obtain an instruction permit that allows them to drive on public roadways in Missouri. To obtain an instruction permit, the teen must pass the written test, road sign recognition test, and vision test. Restrictions that apply when a teen only has an instructional permit include the following:

  • A parent or other qualified person must be seated in the front passenger seat while the teen is driving while the teen is 15
  • At age 16 or older, the teen can drive when a person who is 21 or older with a valid driver’s license is in the front passenger seat 
  • The driver and all passengers must wear their seat belts while the teen operates the vehicle 

Intermediate License

After a Missouri teen has had an instruction permit for 182 days and received 40 hours of driving instruction, which must include 10 hours of instruction at night, the teen can obtain an intermediate license. The teen must also have had neither an alcohol-related conviction in the past year nor a traffic violation within the past six months. If it has been more than one year since the teen obtained an instruction permit, then he or she will be required to again pass the written, road sign recognition, and vision tests in addition to the driving test.

Restrictions that apply when a teen drives with an intermediate license include the following:

  • The teen can have no more than one passenger under 19 years of age who is not an immediate family member in the vehicle for the first six months after the intermediate license is issued
  • The teen can have no more than three passengers other than immediate family members under 19 years of age in the vehicle after the first six months after the intermediate license is issued
  • The teen cannot drive alone between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless commuting to or from a job, school activity, or emergency

Under 21 Full Driver License

If the teen has not had his or her intermediate license or permit suspended, denied, or revoked and has not had any alcohol-related convictions within the last year, the teen can apply for an under 21 full driver’s license if the application is made within the 30 days prior to the teen’s eighteenth birthday. The teen must pass the vision and road sign recognition tests.

What Are Safe Driving Strategies for Teenaged Drivers?

Fortunately, there are several safe driving practices that parents can implement to help their teen drivers, including establishing road rules, being a good role model, and practicing with young drivers.

Establishing Road Rules

Before a teen ever gets behind the wheel, parents can create ground rules that the teen driver must follow as a condition of being given the privilege to drive. Some rules to consider for promoting safe driving for teenagers include: 

  • No texting while driving
  • Turn off notifications when driving
  • Only one passenger when driving
  • Be at home before curfew
  • No alcohol or drugs in the vehicle
  • Always wearing a seat belt
  • No eating or drinking while driving
  • Keep music low so that traffic and important alerts will be audible
  • Set directions or other settings, such as air conditioning, before moving the vehicle
  • No driving while tired or upset
  • No talking on a cell phone while driving, including hands free

Being a Good Role Model

Saying, “Do as I say, not as I do,” simply does not work. Parents cannot expect their teens to drive safely if the parents are modeling poor behaviors that they would not want their young drivers to repeat. Instead, parents should try to show safe driving practices of their own by:

  • Not talking on the phone or texting while driving
  • Not getting behind the wheel after drinking even a small amount of alcohol
  • Paying attention to driving and not engaging in any distractions
  • Using a turn signal before turning or changing lanes
  • Wearing a seat belt
  • Requiring all passengers to wear seat belts

Practicing With Young Drivers

Parents can help to cure their teen drivers’ inexperience by practicing with them. Parents who want to support their teen’s driving experience may wish to consider venturing beyond the school’s driver’s education program or formal private instruction. Young drivers may find it helpful to practice in different scenarios, such as on different types of roadways, in heavy and light traffic, in rain or snow, and sometimes at night. While the teen drives, a parent in the passenger seat can make suggestions for the teen to better handle a situation. In these ride-along exercises, parents should remember not to participate in other activities while they are watching their teens drive. Instead, they should focus solely on the driving practice. 

Contact an Experienced Accident Lawyer for Help Today

Safe driving for teenagers means safer roadways for everyone. Though teens are at greater risk of accidents, taking the above steps can help your teen avoid becoming a statistic. If you have been injured in a car accident that you believe was caused by an inexperienced driver, consider contacting an experienced car accident attorney at Steelman Gaunt Crowley today by calling (573) 341-8336 to learn more about your legal rights and options.