Did you know that car accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States?
More than 5,000 teens die in car accidents in this country each year. That's 40% of all adolescent deaths for teens of driving age, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
That number does not even include the other people who die in accidents involving teen drivers. Quite often the fatality victim is not the teen driver but rather a passenger, the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash, or a pedestrian.
Sadly, teens are also more likely to drive drunk and less likely to use seat belts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that in 2002, of teen drivers killed in accidents, 29% had been drinking before the accident and 77% were not wearing seat belts.
Driver distraction is a growing cause of Maryland car crashes for adults, but it is the top cause of teen crashes. Teens just learning to drive are more susceptible to minor distractions, such as talking to a passenger or fiddling with the radio.
With the hopes of curtailing these sobering statistics, most states, including Maryland, have tightened up laws regarding teen driving.
Maryland now requires young drivers to go through a graduated licensing system called the Maryland Rookie Driver program. This provisional license period restricts teens' driving privileges for the first couple years of driving. For example:
- A teen must have a learner's permit for at least 6 months before applying for a provisional license. They must also be at least 16 years and 3 months old to receive a provisional license.
- After receiving the provisional license, the teen must complete 60 hours of practice driving, 10 of which must be at nighttime. A responsible adult should accompany the teen and record the hours.
- Drivers with a provisional license are not allowed to drive other minors (except for family members) for the first 5 months unless an adult is also in the vehicle.
- Drivers under age 18 are not allowed to use cell phones or any other wireless communication device while driving.
- Drivers must hold a provisional license for 18 months with no moving violations before they are eligible for a full license. They must also be at least 17 years and 9 months old.
While these laws are designed to cut down on the number of teen car accidents in Maryland, they cannot fully protect drivers from reckless teen driving.
If you or a family member has been hurt in a Maryland car crash involving a teen driver, you are certainly not alone. To talk to a Maryland injury attorney who has experience representing cases like yours, call the law offices of Nickelsporn & Lundin at 1-800-875-9700.