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Should Parents Be Required to Take Driver's Ed?

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 the blog, motor vehicle collisions are the leading killer of teens in America. Approximately 66% of people who became injured or were killed in a collision 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 often is a variable, teen driving collisions have also been attributed to high-risk driving behaviors, such as distracted driving and speeding. 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 these:

  • Teens can't drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Teens 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.