According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. Parents are reasonably concerned about the safety of their children. Unfortunately, the biggest threat to a teen’s safety appears to be teenagers themselves.
Teens are not the only ones who are injured in accidents caused by young, inexperienced drivers. Road users across West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania all experience auto accident fatalities as a result of inexperienced teen drivers. That is why these and other states have introduced graduated driver licensing programs.
Graduated Driver Licensing Programs
Here in the tri-state area, teen drivers are subject to many different restrictions on their driving privileges. These restrictions are based on available accident data, which has identified certain factors known to increase the likelihood of a teen driver being involved in an auto accident.
The West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles notes that teen driving privileges occur in three phases:
- First, a teen may obtain an instructional permit at 15 years of age. This allows the teen to drive with a licensed driver (aged 21 or older) in the front seat. No more than two non-family passengers may be in the vehicle in addition to the supervising adult, and permit holders may only driver between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.
- Second, a teen may obtain an intermediate license at 16 years of age. A teen is eligible for an intermediate license if he or she has passed the road skills test, completed 50 hours of supervised driving, and held an instructional permit for at least six months with no violations. The intermediate license allows the teen to drive unsupervised (except between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.). No non-family passengers under the age of 20 are allowed in the vehicle during the first six months an intermediate license is held, and only one is permitted during the next six months.
- Finally, if the teen holds an intermediate license for one year with no violations, he or she is eligible for a full license. This comes with no restrictions on supervising drivers, passengers, or hours of operation.
Ohio places similar restrictions upon teen drivers. According to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, teens have several restrictions during the first 12 months they hold a license. They may not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by an adult (or if they are driving to work, school, or a religious event). They may not drive with more than one non-family passenger unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Pennsylvania also imposes passenger and hours restrictions upon a teen’s driving privileges. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation notes that permit holders and junior license holders may not travel between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Junior license holders are prohibited from carrying more than one passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member. (This limit is increased to three passengers after the junior license has been held for six months.)
It is apparent that both nighttime driving and passengers in the vehicle increase a teen’s risk of causing an auto accident. Tri-state car accident attorneys can help hold teens accountable for driving behaviors which place other road users in danger. Like adult drivers, teen drivers have a legal obligation to drive with due care. This duty is not excused by a lack of age or experience.