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California Bill Seeks to Further Restrict Teen Drivers

Despite targeted safety campaigns, motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In fact, six teens ages 16 to 19 die every day from collisions on our roadways.

Studies have shown that in addition to higher rates of distracted driving, many teens engage in aggressive driving behaviors and neglect to follow the basic rules of the road. Of course, inexperience alone also contributes to a high percentage of teen driving crashes.

To help keep new teen drivers safe, many states have graduated driving license (GDL) laws, which restrict when a teen may drive and who he or she can ride with. Studies have confirmed that these laws can reduce crash rates among new teen drivers by 43 percent.

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.

California’s GDL program only covers first-time teenage drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age. Accordingly, first-time California teenage drivers who are 18 or 19 years of age are not required to complete California’s GDL program.

To further address teen driving safety, California lawmakers are considering further strengthening the state’s GDL laws. Assembly Bill 63, which was recently introduced by California Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), would expand the scope of the provisional licensing program to new drivers under 21 years of age.

"Eighteen- and 19-year-old drivers — new, first-time drivers — have a crash rate 60 percent higher than 16- and 17-year-old drivers that have gone through the provisional license program," Steve Barrow, a spokesperson for the California Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health, said in support of the bill. "Their crash rate is incredibly high and incredibly dangerous."

To decrease the burden on teen drivers, the proposed law would authorize a licensee who is 18, 19, or 20 years of age to keep in his or her possession a copy of his or her class schedule or work schedule as documentation to satisfy the exceptions for a school or school-authorized activity and employment necessity. It would also provide that a signed statement by a parent or legal guardian is not required if reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate and the operation of a vehicle by a licensee who is 18, 19, or 20 years of age is necessary to transport the licensee or the licensee’s immediate family member.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a California car accident caused by a teen driver, don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. Relying on more than 30 years of legal experience, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of California injury victims.