Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for our nation’s teenage drivers. Accidents that involve teenage drivers often involve other innocent victims as well. Because of this, the teenager’s parents may be held responsible for the actions and injuries caused by their daughter or son.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that about 3000 teens die each year in traffic accidents. About one-fifth, or 20%, of 16-year old drivers will be involved in an accident during their very first year of driving. Some additional statistics about teenage drivers are as follows:
The state of California requires that parents sign a consent form that allows their teenage (under 18 years old) son or daughter to drive. When they sign this consent form, they automatically assume any and all liability for accidents caused by their teenage driver. This is what is known as parental liability.
Once a child turns 18 years of age, the parents are released from liability. They can also release their liability earlier than that by filing a Request for Cancellation, or a Surrender of Driver’s License. If this is done, the teenager will automatically and immediately lose their driving privileges and driver’s license.
Parents loaning a car to a teenage driver who causes an accident can be liable through what is called vicarious liability. This would apply when someone causing an accident was driving a car that isn’t their own.
Additionally, parents can be held liable for accidents caused by their teen drivers who have had previous DUI arrests or have drug or alcohol issues that they are aware of.
Teenagers have the potential to be poor drivers. They have much less life experience, as well as experience behind the wheel. They are far more distracted with friends and phones, and it is possible they don’t assume the responsibility of driving with the respect that it deserves. When your teenager turns sixteen and receives their driver’s license, your auto insurance is going to skyrocket, and theirs will be expensive, too. If your teenager causes an accident, your insurance premiums will continue to increase, their policy premiums will increase, or your policies will be cancelled outright by the insurance company because you are now a high risk client.
Each individual teen is going to be different. As a parent, your job is to make the decision whether your teen is ready for the huge responsibility and risk that comes with having a driver’s license and driving a potentially deadly weapon. If you do feel as if they can handle the responsibility, the NHTSA encourages you to keep a concrete set of rules, the breaking of which will result in immediately losing their license and their ability to drive. These rules include a ban on cellphones while driving, absolutely no drinking and driving, no more than one passenger in the car, and the religious use of their seatbelt.
What makes our teenagers such risky drivers? Here is a list of the main factors creating that risk:
Teenage drivers are clearly in a class of their own. As a parent, teaching your child to drive effectively and safely will reduce the chances of an accident occurring, as will having a non-negotiable set of driving rules.