By the numbers, teen drivers are the riskiest group of drivers on the road. If you’ve been in an accident, that means there’s a good chance the person driving the other vehicle was a teenager. And teens themselves are often victims, because they’re often passengers in the vehicles of friends. As a result, the state of Georgia has passed laws making teens prove themselves before they can get a normal driver’s license. Unfortunately, accidents still happen.
If you or your child have been in an accident involving a teen driver, you need answers. Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know—including the stats, the laws, and what to do if you or your teen were hurt in an accident.
Teen Driver Accident Statistics
It’s not an exaggeration to say that teens are the drivers most likely to get in an accident. According to the CDC, 16-19 year olds face the highest risk of accidents of any age group—and are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than those age 20 and older.
There are several reasons for this heightened risk:
- Lack Of Experience. Most adults have been driving for years. But teens are brand new at driving—and that affects their ability to drive safely.
- Risky Driving Behavior. Teens are more likely to engage in daredevil behavior such as racing, speeding or following too closely.
- Distracted Driving. Texting is not the only type of distraction in a vehicle, and teenage distracted driving is nothing new. Teen drivers are also frequently distracted by talking to friends, dancing to music, navigating, eating while driving, or simply horsing around. Fixing makeup is also a common distraction.
- Drugs and Alcohol. DUI is not limited to any age group. But teenagers often experiment with drinking or drugs, even though it’s illegal. And many teens don’t understand how to pace themselves on drinking—or why they should drive under the influence. As a result, DUI is an extremely common cause of teenage accidents.
Not all teens face equal risks. The CDC also reports that males are more likely than females to cause accidents. And, across all teenagers, the risk of an accident is greater if there are other teen passengers in the car—or if it’s the teen’s first year or so of driving. Georgia’s laws regarding teenagers were built around these facts, and are designed to minimize the danger from the riskiest drivers.
Georgia’s Teen Driver Laws
In addition to following all the normal rules of the road, teenagers in Georgia are subject to two additional laws. Both have to do with how they can get licensed in the first place, and put heavy restrictions on newer teen drivers. These laws are:
- Joshua’s Law. Joshua’s Law dramatically strengthened the requirements teens face to get their licenses in the first place. The law requires at least 40 hours of supervised, on-the-road driving experience prior to getting a license. This includes at least 6 hours of nighttime driving experience. The law also requires that teens complete an approved training course, which includes 30 hours of instruction either in a classroom or online.
- Teenage & Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA). Under TADRA, teens under 18 cannot simply apply for a full driver’s license, even when meeting the requirements above. Instead, they have to go through a three-stage “graduated” license.
The 3 Stages of Teenage Driver’s Licenses in Georgia
Here’s how the three stages of the TADRA graduated license work:
- Learner’s Permit. Starting at age 15, a teen can apply for a learner’s permit or “Class CP License,” which requires passing an exam. With this permit, teens can drive only under the supervision of an adult (21 or older) with a valid driver’s license.
- Intermediate License. To get an intermediate or “Class D” license, a teen must have had their learner’s permit for at least 1 year. They also need to be at least 16 years of age and pass a driving test. This license lets them drive, but only under certain restrictions:
- For the first 6 months, they cannot have any passenger who is not a member of their family.
- For the next 6 months, they can have non-family members as passengers, but no more than 1 non-family passenger who’s under 21 years old.
- After that, they can have up to 3 non-family passengers who are under 21.
- Full Driver’s License. Finally, starting at age 18, the teen can apply to get a normal “Class C” driver’s license. They are only eligible if they’ve had no major traffic convictions in the previous 12 months.
I was hit by a teenage driver. What do I need to know?
If you don’t need to be taken to an emergency room right away, there are three major rules for dealing with this kind of accident:
- Tell officers about any kind of reckless behavior you saw. This could include the teens in the other car dancing, yelling out windows, using a device, speeding, or changing lanes aggressively. Teens will often admit this behavior when law enforcement asks them about it. Georgia is a fault state, so this can be crucial to your case.
- Look for signs of intoxication or drug use. If teens are acting drunk, staggering, or slurring words, this is a sure sign. But they may also try to dispose of bottles or drugs. Use your camera to record intoxicated behavior and tell officers about anything you saw.
- Do your best to stay calm. It can be infuriating to be hit by someone who made a dumb mistake—or wasn’t even paying attention. But teens don’t always know how to handle an accident. They may not be sure where insurance paperwork is or what they’re supposed to do after pulling over. You may be the only adult present until police arrive. Tell the teen to wait for the police, and let officers serve as your go-between.
Most teens have car insurance through their parents, and your claim will ultimately be with the parents or their insurance company, not with the teenagers directly.
My teen was a passenger hurt in an accident. What do I need to know?
Not all teens are at fault for the accidents they’re in. The most common type of teen victim is someone who was a passenger in a friend’s car. Whether or not the friend was at fault, the passenger is an innocent victim.
Here’s what you need to know:
- You have a valid car accident claim. Your claim may be against the teen driver, the other driver, or both, but if your teen was a passenger you definitely have a valid claim. You need to talk to a lawyer.
- Be prepared for drugs or alcohol. Teens have many opportunities to try these substances, and even otherwise responsible teens sometimes experiment with them. Car accidents often involve intoxication—you should be ready for this possibility with your own child.
- Your teen has likely already talked to the police. Even if your teen calls you immediately, it’s unlikely you’ll reach the scene before the police. Police may ask your teen questions without you or a lawyer present. If your teen was drinking or breaking another law, be prepared that they may have already said something incriminating without realizing it. It still helps to get a lawyer as soon as possible.
- Never let someone else shift the blame. It’s possible that everyone in the car, including your teen, was horsing around. But ultimately the driver is the one responsible for the vehicle. If your teen was a passenger, don’t let the insurer try to shift blame—get a lawyer who can fight back and get you a fair recovery.
Talk to a Lawyer for Free
You don’t need to face the aftermath of an accident yourself. Let the attorneys of John Foy & Associates give you a FREE consultation about your case. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get a FREE consultation today.