For Newport Beach teenagers, learning to drive is an exciting step toward freedom and adulthood. Unfortunately, it is also a dangerous period. As teen drivers gain experience behind the wheel and become accustomed to the responsibilities of driving, they are at risk of serious car accidents. Teens as a group average twice as many crashes as adult drivers, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a teen driving accident in Newport Beach, it’s best to speak with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer as soon as possible. At Sam & Ash Injury Law, our Newport Beach injury attorneys can help you determine who is financially liable for your injuries after a teen driving accident and seek fair compensation for your losses.
Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights after a teen driving accident in Newport Beach, CA. Our attorneys at Sam & Ash Injury Law want What’s Right for you.
California Laws Regarding Teen Driving
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handbook includes a section detailing the driving privileges and restrictions that apply to teen drivers.
Important California laws for teen drivers include:
- Teen drivers with learner’s permits may only practice driving if they have a licensed driver aged 25 or older with them in the front passenger seat.
- Teen drivers with learner’s permits are prohibited from driving on their own under any circumstances.
- During the first year that a teen driver has a provisional license, the teen is not allowed to transport passengers under the age of 20, unless accompanied by a parent or a licensed driver 25 years or older.
- Teen drivers also are prohibited from driving between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. during their first year with a license, unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is 25 years old or older.
- In special situations, new teen drivers can drive between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. if they have signed documentation proving that they are driving for school-related activities, work-related activities, or medical reasons.
- Teen drivers are generally prohibited from using cell phones and electronic communication devices while driving. The law allows teen drivers to use a phone to contact the police, a health care provider or an emergency responder in an emergency situation.
- California will suspend a teen’s license for up to a year if the driver is found driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just 0.01 percent or higher.
California Teen Driving Statistics
According to recent data published by the California Highway Patrol and the Office of Traffic Safety:
- There were 164 teen fatalities in California car crashes in a recent year, a 25.2 percent decrease from the 219 teen crash fatalities the previous year.
- There were 83 teen driver fatalities in California car crashes that year, a 12.7 percent decrease from the 95 teen driver fatalities the previous year.
- In another recent year, there were 159 teen vehicle occupants killed in California car accidents, 47 of whom (30 percent) were not wearing seatbelts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen drivers throughout the U.S. have a higher crash risk than drivers of any other age group:
- Per mile driven, U.S. teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are almost three times more likely than older drivers to be involved in fatal car crashes.
- Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of death among teens.
- In a single recent year, nearly 2,400 U.S. teens aged 13 to 19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and 258,000 were treated for crash-related injuries in emergency departments.
- Data suggests that male teens, teens driving with other teen passengers, and younger teens are most at-risk for teen driving accidents.
Recent Teen Driving Accidents in Newport Beach
Teen driving accidents are unfortunately all too frequent in the Newport Beach area. Some of these accidents ultimately prove fatal.
At approximately 10:45 p.m. on August 16, 2021, a 17-year-old girl from Perris was killed in a car accident in west Riverside. According to local authorities, the teen driver was racing with an unidentified driver in another vehicle when she lost control and crashed into a tree.
The unidentified driver reportedly fled the scene of the crash almost immediately. Both the driver and her passenger, also a 17-year-old female, were rushed to a local hospital for their injuries. Sadly, the driver died from her injuries soon after.
More recently, on January 7, 2022, a 17-year old male driver died in a loss-of-control accident that occurred along Santiago Canyon Road in Orange County. The Foothill Ranch teen was reportedly driving northbound along the road on a Friday evening when his vehicle swerved left, crossed the southbound lane, and struck a tree.
Causes of Teen Driving Accidents
According to the CDC, the following factors put teen drivers at significant risk of becoming involved in traffic accidents:
- Lack of experience – Because teen drivers lack experience behind the wheel, they are less likely to recognize a potential crash situation or react appropriately. Research suggests teens are more prone to critical decision errors that can contribute to accidents.
- Driving at night – Driving at night is hazardous for all drivers and is particularly risky for teens. Recent data indicates that teen drivers are nearly three times more likely to be involved in fatal nighttime crashes than adult drivers.
- Not wearing seat belts – Compared to adults over the age of 25, teen and young adult drivers are roughly three percent less likely to use seat belts. In one recent year, almost half of all teen drivers and passengers who were killed in car accidents were not wearing seat belts when they crashed.
- Distracted driving – Distractions are dangerous for all drivers but are especially risky for inexperienced teens. Unfortunately, recent surveys suggest that nearly 40 percent of high school drivers admitted to texting or emailing while driving at least once over the past month.
- Speeding – Teen drivers are more likely to speed and to leave less following distance while driving. In one recent year, 31 percent of male young adult drivers and 17 percent of female young adult drivers involved in fatal accidents were speeding before the crash occurred.
- Alcohol or drug use – Teens who drink and drive are significantly more likely to be involved in crashes than adult drivers, even when teens are below the legal BAC limit for adults. Drugs, such as cannabis, can impair a teen driver’s ability to drive safely.
Can Parents Be Sued After a Teen Driving Accident?
When a minor teen applies for a driver’s license, they must include the signature of a parent or legal guardian with their application. Under §17707 of the California Vehicle Code, a parent or guardian who signs a consent form allowing their minor child to drive is liable for any damages resulting from accidents caused by the child.
The responsibility of a parent or guardian for accidental damage caused by their teen is called parental liability.
In many situations, teen drivers and their parents are considered jointly liable for teen driving accidents under California law. This means victims of teen driving accidents have the right to sue the teen, the teen’s parents, or both. In many cases, the teen driver is listed on the parent’s auto insurance policy.
Safety Tips for Teen Drivers
California teens can substantially reduce their chances of being involved in a crash by understanding and practicing the following safe driving tips:
- Familiarize yourself with your vehicle and all its major functions and safety features before driving
- Be sure to adjust your mirrors and seat every time you get in the car
- Make wearing a seatbelt when you drive a habit
- Put away phones, food, and other potential distractions
- Drive during the day when possible and avoid driving at night or in bad weather
- Practice defensive driving techniques by closely monitoring your speed, maintaining a safe following distance, and constantly scanning your surroundings
- Learn how to maintain your vehicle and keep it in good shape at all times
Contact Our Newport Beach Teen Driving Accident Attorneys
The Newport Beach teen driving accident attorneys of Sam & Ash Injury Law, can provide the legal assistance you need if you have been injured in a wreck caused by a teen driver’s negligence. Contact us today to discuss the details of your situation with our capable and compassionate team.