Important Information for Parents of Teenage Drivers
Teenagers are at the greatest risk of being involved in a serious accident when they are first learning to drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenage drivers. The reason behind the high rate, according to NHTSA, is immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience.
Top Risk Factors for Teenage Drivers
From the perspective of a 16-year-old, a driver’s license is a ticket to freedom. You’ve spent your life keeping your child from danger and allowing them to take to the roads solo can be terrifying. As a parent, you have a right to worry. Year after year studies and accident statistics show teens are at an increased risk of injury and accident behind the wheel of a vehicle – especially in a busy place like South Florida.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving is more than texting while behind the wheel. Eating, attempting to connect a bluetooth device, applying makeup, or reaching for something across the seat can increase a driver’s risk of an accident. As of July 2019, texting and driving while behind the wheel is illegal.
- Passengers – Your teen faces a 44% increase in risk when driving when just one passenger under the age of 21 is in the car (with no older passengers in the vehicle). Advise your teen driver the limited situations when they are permitted to drive with passengers in the car.
- Speeding – Speeding is a critical safety issue for teen drivers. Ensure your teen knows the posted speed limit isn’t a suggestion. You can also discuss hotspots in your community where the speed limit changes abruptly or where speeding is a known problem.
- Drunk/high driving – Impaired driving accidents are 100% preventable. Ensure your teen knows there are alternative ways to get home should they ever find themselves in a situation where they are unable to safely drive home.
- Seat belt use – More than half of teens (13 to 19 years) and adults (20 to 44 years) who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. Lead by example and set the habit early – seatbelts on before you take the car out of park.
Florida Laws on Teen Driving
Your teen is eligible for a learner’s permit at the age of 15 after they’ve successfully completed the required course, physical test, and have consent from a parent. The learner’s permit allows them to drive with a person over the age of 21 in the passenger seat. After three months they can drive at night.
You must have your learner’s permit for a year before you can apply for an intermediate license (ages 16 and 17). The intermediate license has restrictions on the hours you can drive based on whether you are 16 or 17 years old. At 18 years old, drivers are eligible for a full unrestricted license. While there are no laws regarding the number of passengers or the time of day/night you can operate the vehicle with an unrestricted license, parents are encouraged to set those rules within their home.
Parents Can Prevent Accidents
Early education, clear rules and leading by example all play a big role in helping your young driver stay safe and make good choices behind the wheel. It’s important to remember that parents are liable for accidents caused by their teenager’s negligence. After an accident, calling an attorney should be a priority.