Teen drivers are vulnerable to dangerous injuries, not only to themselves but also to their passengers and other motorists. As inexperienced drivers, they are often sleep-deprived and media-distracted.
Driving at night is still a challenge, and speeding is always a temptation. When their friends are riding along, teen fatality rates can skyrocket. Several media reports have noted that teen drivers with teen passengers cause vehicle fatality rates to soar.
Increased accident rates when teens ride together
A double fatality occurred in February 2018 in Livingston County when the 16-year-old driver lost control of her car. Michigan State Police reported that the vehicle crossed over the median into a tree, overturned and crashed into another tree. A Brighton High School student and her passenger, a young woman from Howell High School, were alone in the vehicle when the tragedy occurred.
Another crash occurred in Livingston County during September 2018 when a 16-year-old driver with four teenage passengers was speeding. Upon cresting a hill, her car left the ground. All five teens sustained injuries as the airborne vehicle's front end wheels touched the ground, jumped one levy, flew over a second levy and finally landed, skidding off the road. The teens received medical treatment and survived their injuries.
Parents can set limits on teen passengers
Research obtained by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that all roadway users suffered increased fatalities when a teen driver sharing the road had one or more teenage passengers along for the ride. The death rate for teen drivers went up 45 percent while other vehicle drivers and occupants suffered a 56 percent increase in fatalities. Cyclists and pedestrians using the road were 17 percent more likely to be fatally injured.
Parents should not allow teen passengers to ride with their teen driver unless an adult is also in the vehicle. Research has shown the presence of an older, mature passenger had the effect of lowering teen-related accidents. Parents may want to set driving-suspension penalties for traffic tickets or other forbidden road behaviors. Wise parents can model the driving they expect from their teens.
Help for parents with teen driver accidents
In Michigan, the parent or another legal guardian of a teen under the age of 18 assumes motor vehicle liability for accidents. Legal recourse is available for matters involving minors and motor vehicle accidents.
Parents of a teen passenger injured while riding with an impaired, inattentive or unlicensed teen driver may want to pursue a personal injury action against the responsible party.