Why Teen Driver Crashes Increase in Summer
May 29th, 2017 by Attorney John Colvin
Every summer, crashes involving teen drivers increase, especially in the 100-day period that begins on Memorial Day. Several factors may explain why this happens every year, the most obvious being that teens drive more than usual during the summer.
During the school year, teens might be driving to and from school five days a week. In the summer, they may drive several times a day, chatting with one or more passengers, and driving late at night.
Driving at night and driving distracted are known to be crash risk factors for teen drivers. Driver’s education classes teach teens about the dangers of distraction and other behaviors, yet those lessons are quickly forgotten. Parents play the most important role in helping their teens stay safe on the road.
Legal Restrictions on Teen Driving
Many states have graduated driver licensing laws that limit nighttime driving and the number of allowable passengers. In Tennessee, teen drivers with a learner’s permit who are under age 18 cannot drive between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and can transport no more than one passenger.
Teens are eligible for a learner’s permit at age 15 and can get an intermediate restricted license at age 16, if they’ve completed 50 hours of driving, including 10 hours of night driving, and met all other requirements. With a restricted license, teens cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
GDL laws can help reduce teen crashes, but only if those laws are enforced. A study in 2015 found that 14 percent of Tennessee parents were unaware of the state’s GDL laws. And a survey conducted by the University of Tennessee, UT Extension Institute of Agriculture found that even when parents are aware of the rules, they don’t always enforce them. One police officer surveyed said when teens get their license, parents should have to sign a form acknowledging the applicable driving restrictions. Another police officer said that parents are a “stronger tool than enforcement by police.”
Developing ‘House’ Rules
GDL laws are useful in helping teens gradually develop the skills they need to be safe drivers. But the National Safety Council says state laws don’t adequately protect teens, and for that reason, parents should develop their own driving rules for their children.
An online New Driver Deal template may be helpful for parents wanting to strengthen rules for their teen driver. It includes specific promises for teens to agree to, such as, “I will never eat while driving.” A section for parents includes the promise, “I agree to stay involved: I will ride with my teen once each week to see how they are progressing and coach them.” A blank field allows for parents or teens to add more rules or provisions.
Being Good Role Models
From an early age, children learn a lot by observing their parents. If children grow up seeing their parents routinely texting while driving, it’s reasonable to assume that when those children reach driving age, they will engage in the same behavior.
Parents can help their teens develop safe driving habits by setting a good example and by being actively involved as they develop driving skills.
John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has successfully represented injured clients throughout Tennessee and Alabama who have been seriously hurt in car accidents. For 20 years, he has been helping victims put their lives back on track, and he is ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next or if you have any questions about this topic, call 1-931-962-1044 or submit our online form. Put his bold approach and client focus to work for you.