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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of teenagers in the United States. In 2010, seven teens between the ages of 16 and 19 died every day in car accidents. Of those injured and killed, boys are twice as likely to be injured or killed as girls. There is also a correlation between teen passengers and a higher rate of accidents.
Because teenagers are inexperienced drivers, they tend to cause more car accidents because they are more likely to speed, underestimate a dangerous situation, not use a seat belt, and drive drunk or get in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.
Massachusetts enacted the Graduated Driver’s License program, which provides for a stepped-up basis for driver’s license from learner’s permit to junior operator’s license to full driver’s license. Learner’s permits are available to teenagers beginning at age 16. At age 16 ½ an individual is eligible to take a road test to obtain their Junior Operator’s License. Once received, they are considered “junior operators” until they are 18 years old. During this time restrictions are placed on who can be a passenger within the junior operator’s vehicle and the times of day that the junior operator can drive a vehicle.
During the junior operator phase, any criminal related motor vehicle offenses, moving violation, seatbelt violation, or passenger restriction violations shall be an automatic loss of license for a period of time and stiff penalties are implemented before a license can be reissued. These strict penalties are an attempt to prevent the infractions from occurring in the first place.
Another restriction placed on junior operators is that they are not allowed to use a cell phone while driving. Effective September 30, 2010, any person under the age of 18 is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. This includes making or answering phone calls, sending or looking at text messages, sending or looking at e-mails, or anything else that the phone is capable of doing.
Unfortunately, this prohibition has not prevented teenage motor vehicle accidents involving cell phone use. Despite the risks, the majority of teen drivers ignore cell phone restrictions. In 2007, driver distractions, such as using a cell phone or text messaging, contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers. Over 60 % of American teens admit to risky driving, and nearly half of those that admit to risky driving also admit to text messaging behind the wheel. Each year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage. This result has been expected to grow as much as 4% every year. Almost 50% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are texting while driving. Over one-third of all young drivers, ages 24 and under, are texting on the road. Teens say that texting is their number one driver distraction.
Do You Need A Car Accident Lawyer? Find out if you have a teen car accident case.
If you have suffered an injury in an auto accident involving a teenage driver, contact us for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours, or call (617) 886-0500 . If you need a car accident lawyer outside of Massachusetts, contact us for a referral.