Parents of teen drivers and those who share the road with these drivers (which is all of us) will be disturbed but perhaps not surprised to learn that according to the Tennessee Department of Safety, crashes involving teen drivers rose significantly in 2023 over the prior year. This isn’t a state-specific issue. The number of teen crashes is rising nationwide.
The head of a group called Americans United Against Destructive Driving (AUADD) says the problem involves multiple risky behaviors behind the wheel – from texting and other distractions to drunk driving. He notes that the chances of risky behavior triple when teen drivers are carrying more than one passenger.
The group is working on an app called “Turn on Safe Driving” to help with the problem. Of course, just like smartphone features meant to discourage distracted driving, it will only work if it’s used.
Will harsher penalties for distracted driving help?
A new state law that took effect on Jan. 1 may curb some of this behavior. The new law increases the penalties for drivers of all ages caught using a phone or any other electronic device. Previously, drivers only received a $50 fine. Now, those under 18 will get seven points on their driving record for a second offense, and adults will get four points for a first or second offense.
Those behind the law, which is named for a Tennessee man killed in a crash caused by a distracted driver, hope the new penalties will get people’s attention in the way a fine (especially a small one) doesn’t. Since those under 18 are only allowed six points a year, that means they could lose their driving privileges if they make a habit of texting and driving.
Teens can be victims of distracted driving
Even if your teen knows better than to deal with their phone while they’re driving, they are still at the mercy of other teen and adult drivers who aren’t. They may find themselves a passenger in a car with one of those dangerous drivers.
If your teen (or anyone in your family) has been injured by a distracted driver, don’t agree to a quick settlement, no matter how good it may sound. Getting experienced legal guidance as soon as possible can help you protect your rights to fair compensation.