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Heightened motor vehicle accident risks for teenage drivers

New devices track teenage driving behavior and offer teachable moments. Reports generated on speed and other risky behavior may also provide answers when the cause of an accident is unclear.






Auto accidents are a leading cause of death for adolescents. According to the Centers for Disease Control, eight young people die in car crashes every day. Inexperience combined with impulsiveness can lead to bad decisions and accidents.

Consumer reports recently reviewed several new products that allow parents to monitor their teenage drivers and may reduce car accidents overall. A small device installs under the dashboard in a diagnostic port. Then to receive reports, a parent needs to pay the company a monthly fee.

The gizmos track driving behavior and send alerts when a teen slams on the brakes, revs the engine or drives above the posted speed limit. Vehicle location and route are also tracked. Reports on driving behavior can allow parents to coach their children on safe driving behavior.

While Washington has certain restrictions on intermediate drivers licenses for teens, they might not be enough to fully protect teenagers and others on the roads.

Dangerously unprepared?

A majority of teenage car crashes happen at night. The Washington Department of Licensing does not allow a driver under the age of 18 to drive between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless accompanied. But research from the Highway Research Safety Center at the University of North Carolina suggests the most dangerous hours are earlier and from 9:00 p.m. to midnight.

Driving with passengers in the vehicle increases the odds of crashing for less experienced drivers. The Washington DOL limits passengers. A driver under age 18 may not have any passengers under the age of 20 during the first six months. Then the limit for the second six months is three passengers.

Research has also found decreases in crash rates when teens received 110 hours of supervised driving experience prior to receiving a license. Providing additional practice in a variety of road and traffic conditions can also help prepare a young driver.

Teenagers driving on an intermediate license are not allowed to use cellphones even if they have a hands-free device. A violation of any of the intermediate rules could result in a ticket or license suspension. When other individuals, passengers in the same vehicle or occupants of other vehicles, suffer injury, a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary.

Civil remedies and negligent driving conduct

It is not only the teens themselves at risk, but all users of the nation’s roadways. While parents can offer guidance, they cannot prevent teens from negligent and sometimes reckless conduct. A violation of an intermediate license may provide evidence of negligence.

When a parent has a tracking device monitoring a vehicle driven by a teen, it could provide evidence when the cause of an accident is unknown. The family might not be forthcoming about the existence of such a device, however, and an investigation may be necessary. This goes to the point that it is often difficult to uncover what caused an accident. Eyewitnesses may also provide key information especially when a serious accident results in a concussion and memory loss.

After an accident that involves a serious injury, contact a personal injury attorney who can run interference with the insurance companies and investigate causation. If the negligent conduct of another was the cause, you might be entitled to compensation to cover medical bills, time away from work and pain and suffering.

Keywords: Teenage car crashes, Accident liability