As a Georgia personal injury attorney, I have represented many clients injured by young drivers and many clients who have lost loved ones in accidents involving teen drivers. It’s an indisputable fact that inexperienced and often immature young drivers have high rates of involvement in fatal car wrecks.
A November 2009 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that young drivers ages 15 to 20 represent just 6 percent of licensed drivers but account for 19 percent of fatal crashes. Further, the NHTSA report points out:
Approximately two-thirds of the people killed in fatal young-driver crashes are the young drivers themselves or the passengers (of all ages) of the young drivers.
Of the passengers killed riding in vehicles with young drivers, 67 percent are in the same 15-to-20-year-old age group as the drivers.
Fifty-six percent of the fatal crashes and 57 percent of the fatalities involving young drivers occur on rural roadways.
The majority of passengers killed in teen driver accidents are other teens. Because of this fact, most states now have graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) programs for teens. Typically, the first stage of a GDL includes the learner’s permit, which allows the teen to drive only with another fully licensed adult in the vehicle. Stage two is the intermediate or provisional stage with various restrictions such as nighttime driving limits, driving curfews, and passenger restrictions (including restrictions on other teens passengers). Stage three is the full driver’s license.
Currently, 48 states plus the District of Columbia have nighttime restrictions in place for the provisional stage, and 42 states plus D.C. have passenger restrictions. The restrictions are typically lifted at age 18.
In Georgia, Joshua’s Law was passed in 2007. Along with the Teenage and Adult Driver and Responsibility Act (TADRA), Joshua’s law changed the process of licensing for teen drivers in Georgia and established a GDL system. In Georgia, a teen my apply for a learner’s permit at age 15. A teen with a learner’s permit must be accompanied by an adult age 21 or older with a class C license in order to drive. The intermediate drivers license in Georgia may be applied for at age 16 after a teen completes a driver education program. Teens with a class D intermediate license cannot drive between midnight and 6:00 a.m., and during the first six months they cannot have any passengers outside of immediate family. After six months, teens may carry one non-family passenger under the age of 21. After one year, teens drivers in Georgia may have up to three non-family passengers under 21. These restrictions have likely saved countless lives.
However, teen crash fatalities in Georgia area still high. In 2007, there were 300 fatalities involving young drivers in Georgia. Of these fatalities, 120 were teen drivers themselves.
If you have teen drivers in your family, be sure to talk to them about motor vehicle crashes. Talk to them about the dangers of speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving; these risk factors cause the majority of teen wrecks.
If you’ve been seriously injured by a teen driver or any driver in Georgia, contact an experienced Georgia auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 4094-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.