Driver’s education is a rite of passage for most teens. To increase
road safety, many states are requiring parents to participate too.
Teen Drivers Have High Crash Risks
As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, motor vehicle
collisions are the
leading killer of teens in America. The impact of teenage drivers also extends well beyond teen drivers and
their passengers. Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash
involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel.
Even more concerning, crashes involving teens are on the rise. In 2015,
almost 1,900 drivers aged 15 to 20 died in motor vehicle crashes, which
represented a 9 percent increase over the prior year. Approximately 195,000
teens were injured in crashes in 2015, which was a 14 percent jump.
While inexperience is often a contributing factor, teen driving crashes
are also linked to several high-risk driving behaviors, including speeding
and distracted driving. More than 20 percent of teen drivers involved
in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.
Parent Driver’s Education Programs
In 2016, a
study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that parents today are worse at preparing their teens to drive compared
to a ten years ago. Prior studies have also found that many parents set
a bad example by violating traffic laws, speeding, and using their cell
phones behind the wheel.
Rhode Island is the latest state to
require parents of prospective teen drivers to complete mandatory driver’s
education classes. Massachusetts was the first state to mandate it in 2007. One of the key
components of the courses is educating parents about the restrictions
on teen driver’s licenses.
Most states have graduated licensing programs. In California, during the
12 months of licensing or until the age of 18, teens are subject to the
restrictions of a provisional license. That means they can't drive
between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. In addition, they can't have
any passengers under 20 years old in the car, unless a licensed driver
over 25 years old is also in the vehicle.
Studies have confirmed that graduated driving laws can reduce crash rates
among new teen drivers by 43 percent. Of course, parents can’t help
enforce the laws if they don’t understand the restrictions.
The parent driver’s education classes also teach parents and guardians
how to mentor teens to be safe drivers. “Mom and dad are the most
influential people in a teen’s life, when it comes to driving,”
said Pam Fischer, a consultant to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
“If they are educated to understand the risk, that’s huge
because their kids are listening to them.”
Most classes are free and can be completed online. Nonetheless, not everyone
is in favor of making driver’s education mandatory for parents.
Critics question the effectiveness in reducing teen driving crashes and
maintain that it poses an undue burden on parents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a negligent
driver, you may be entitled to compensation. We encourage you to contact
a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.