Teenagers enjoy many freedoms and privileges. In North Carolina, when an individual reaches the age of 15 they are eligible to apply for a learner's permit and enroll in driver education courses. The earliest age an individual could receive their full driver license in North Carolina is approximately 16 years and six months. (16-year-olds could be eligible for a provisional license. The provisional license must be held for six months before the individual can apply for a full license.) Even the most responsible and law-abiding teens lack experience on the road. Inexperience is one factor that contributes to crashes. Teens must manage inexperienced driving with the same risk variables long-time drivers might face: Distracted driving, fatigue, intoxication, speeding, driver error, and more. Teenagers are at a greater risk of injury when driving at night.
Here are two facts provided by the Centers for Disease Control:
- The leading cause of death among teenagers is vehicle accidents.
- More fatal motor vehicle accidents occur at night.
With these two facts in mind, it is easy to understand why risks for teenage drivers (and their passengers) are higher at night. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that teens are four times more likely to be killed in a crash at night. How can parents, guardians, friends, and family help a new teen driver minimize risk of a night-time accident and improve their night driving skills?
- Practice. Many experts attest that the best way to learn to drive in different conditions is to do it. A parent or guardian can decide when they think their teen is ready for night driving, and can start practicing in a controlled environment before moving to public roads.
- Curfews. Depending on the time of year (dusk falls earlier in fall/winter and later in spring/summer due to Daylight Savings), parents could impose a curfew of an hour after sunset at the very latest. It is up to parents' discretion how long to require a curfew. Perhaps for the first six months to one year following the date the teen's license was issued, depending on how much experience behind the wheel the driver is accruing and if they have any traffic violations.
- Limit passengers. Conversations, trying to impress friends, and other distractions surface when teens drive with passengers. Parents can limit who or how many passengers their teen can drive with, or simply require that the teen focuses entirely on the road and drives alone if driving at night.
In addition to the few tips above, many smartphones are compatible with new apps that help minimize the risk of a teenager's accident. Do you have more tips to help keep teen drivers safe? Share with our Cary car accident lawyers on Facebook and Twitter @brentadamslaw.