Chances are that your teenager can’t wait to get a driver’s license. Among teenagers, a driver’s license is a status symbol and a ticket to freedom! It’s quite the milestone for parents, as well. Parents are proud of their child’s accomplishment and are often relieved that they are no longer the child’s only mode of transportation, but are apprehensive about their teen’s safety and the possibility of car accident injuries. Rightfully so, too.
Teen Drivers Likely to Have Car Accident Injuries
According the American Automobile Association, in 2011, teen drivers accounted for only 7% of the driving population, but were involved in 14% of fatal car accidents.
Louisiana was one of the states with the highest number of teen-aged driver fatalities, and those numbers are climbing. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that in 2011, there were nine deaths of 16 and 17-year-olds involved in car accidents, while there were fifteen in 2012. Contributing factors to teen traffic issues include driving inexperience, lack of adequate driving training, risk taking, poor driving judgment and decision making, distraction, alcohol consumption and driving during high risk hours (11 p.m. to 5 a.m.).
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Louisiana Driver’s Licensing Program
Louisiana, among other states, has adopted a graduated licensing program in an effort to improve teen driving performance. The graduated licensing program has three stages: a Learner’s Permit, an Intermediate License and a Full License. The Learner’s Permit and Intermediate License are designed to ensure that teen drivers have the experience they need to drive safely by the time they obtain their Full License.
Anyone who is 15, 16 or 17 may apply for a learner’s permit. All applicants must pass a vision, written and traffic signs exam in addition to completing a 38-hour Driver Education Course. A learner’s permit allows the holder to drive with another licensed driver who is at least 21 or a licensed sibling who is at least 18. Before applying for an Intermediate License, a 15 or 16-year-old must have a Learner’s Permit for a minimum of 180 days.
An applicant for an intermediate license must be at least 16 years old, have had a Learner’s Permit for a minimum of 180 days, show proof of successful completion of the 38-hour Driver Education Course, and pass a road test. With an Intermediate License, a driver may drive with passengers or alone. However, if driving between the hours of 11:00 pm and 5:00 am, a driver with an Intermediate License must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21.
To obtain a Full License,the applicant must be at least 17 and have had a Learner’s Permit and Intermediate License for the designated time periods. Otherwise, anyone age 17 years or older must complete either the 38-hour Driver Education Course or pass a six-hour pre-licensing course approved by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Top Tips for Teens to Avoid Car Accident Injuries
Experts agree that parental support and enforcement of the graduated licensing program is essential to safe teen driving. Suggestions for parents to protect their teen drivers from car accident injuries:
- Get involved and stay involved. Make sure you know where your teen is going, with whom, who will be driving and when.
- Allow your teen to drive you. This is the best way to observe your teen’s driving habits and provide a safe environment for gaining valuable experience.
- Let’s make a deal! Explicitly tell your teen that certain actions will result in driving privileges being withheld for a certain period of time. Those actions should include driving without a seat belt, driving while talking on the phone, texting, eating, changing cds, driving with too many people in the car, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Then keep your word and those car keys.
- Limit late night and weekend driving.
- Educate your teen on the potential financial obligations of driving, like speeding tickets and insurance coverage. Have the young driver research those costs in your community and explain that those expenses will be his or her responsibility.
So, celebrate your teen’s accomplishment of obtaining a driver’s license and encourage them to practice driving often and safely. Remind them often that, whether driving alone or with friends, that car is carrying precious cargo.
If you or your teen has been involved in a car accident injury, the personal injury attorneys at Morris Bart, LLC Attorneys at Law are here to represent you. Contact us today to find out if you have a case.
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