Getting a driver’s license is a greatly anticipated rite of passage for most teenagers. The freedom to travel independently is a welcome change. But teenagers are at high risk of getting into an accident. It is important to give them the best chance of driving confidently and safely.
Most states, including Pennsylvania, have a graduated driver’s license (GDL) program that eases student drivers into totally independent driving. These programs attempt to minimize the risk of accidents for new and inexperienced drivers.
Risk Factors for Accidents
Inexperienced drivers are more likely to get into an accident in the first few months of getting their license.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenagers between ages 16 and 19 are the highest risk group for motor vehicle crashes. These drivers are three times more likely to be in a fatal accident than drivers over age 20.
Most accidents involving teenagers happen at night. Further, the risk of being in an accident increases when teenage passengers are also in the vehicle.
Pennsylvania’s GDL Program
Pennsylvania’s GDL Law went into effect in 1999. It has three stages:
- A learner’s permit
- A junior license
- An unrestricted license
Restrictions on driving are eased as the driver gains experience.
To get a learner’s permit, the driver must pass a physical exam, a vision test, and a knowledge test. The permit provides for a six-month practice period, where driving skills are developed under adult supervision by an adult of at least 21 years of age. The student cannot drive between 11pm and 5am.
To get to the next stage, a parent or guardian must certify that the student driver has had at least 65 hours of adult-supervised driving, including some at night and in poor weather conditions.
The junior license stage is for students to further hone their skills. Driving between 11pm and 5am is still prohibited, unless for employment or volunteer work.
After established a history of safe driving, a student driver can then progress to getting an unrestricted license when they turn 18.
A Parent’s Role
Driving safely is about reinforcing good habits and skills. Parents can take a lead role. First, be sure you have insurance on the vehicle and that your student driver is covered under your policy. Next, spend time being a passenger while the young driver practices. Expand driving privileges once your child shows they have developed good skills. Give them real-life driving experiences in varying driving conditions, including time of day, weather, variable roadways, and traffic.
Parents lead best by example. It is hard to expect your teenager to drive safely if they witness you taking unnecessary risks while driving. Avoid distracted driving, especially texting or talking on the phone while driving. Avoid tailgating and speeding. Never drive while intoxicated. Always wear your seat belt and make sure passengers do the same.
Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Have Experience With Young Driver Car Accidents
If you or your teenager has been in a car accident, be sure to notify your insurance agent, get the contact information of other any other drivers, and obtain a copy of the police report. Next, contact an experienced Delaware County car accident lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We will analyze your case, advise you of your options, and develop legal strategies to recover costs and get back on track. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to arrange for a free initial consultation. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.