Keeping Teen Drivers Safe
Summertime means that more teens are out and about. Watch out for more pedestrians walking in the evenings and keep an eye out for more teenage drivers. Once the initial Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in Lafayette and Acadiana, it became clear that young adults were understandably eager to be with their friends. They are visible presence in our community.
The research is just now coming out about the safety of our highways while citizens across the country were asked to stay home. Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that as Americans began driving less and covering fewer miles, the emptier roads became more lethal. Early data indicate a year-over-year 14% jump in fatality rates per miles driven in March, in spite of an 8% drop in the total number of roadway deaths compared to March 2019.
Couple that bad news with research from AAA that says teens are involved in car crashes more in the summer months than any other time of year. In fact, for every mile driven, new teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. Teendriving.aaa.com
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC) considers a motorist a “young driver” if they are between the ages of 15 to 24. It may sound odd to group an adult over 21 years of age with a fledgling driver but the statistics bear it out. According to LHSC, during 2017 in Louisiana, there were 88 fatal crashes involving drivers aged 15 – 20 years old and 108 fatal crashes involving drivers aged 21 – 24 years old.
- 9,824 injury crashes involving drivers 15 – 20 years old
- 9,310 injury crashes involving drivers 21 – 24 years old
According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, “Inexperience, coupled with immaturity, often results in risk-taking behaviors such as speeding, alcohol use, and not wearing a seat belt—all of which contribute to increased fatal and injury crashes.”
If you are the parent of a teen driver, stop and take a moment to educate your child about the importance of safe driving. Take a drive with your teenager and observe their driving skills. Did they buckle up? Use turn signals? Pay attention to the road? Did they come to a full stop at stop signs? Did they follow too closely? When stopped at a red light, did they reach for their phone to text? Be sure and educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving. And of course, they should never get behind the wheel if they are under the influence of alcohol or other substance. Discuss with teens a strategy that encourages them to ask for your help should they ever find themselves in a potentially hazardous situation. Do what you can to prevent any driver, especially your teenage driver, from operating a vehicle while under the influence.
If you are nervous about turning the keys to your car over to your teenager, the state has a driver’s licensing program designed to bolster their driving skills before they are issued a driver’s license with full privileges.
Louisiana offers a Graduated Licensing Program to allow young drivers time to gain some experience on the road in a limited way. The program has three stages of licensure: 1. A learner’s permit that allows the holder to drive only while supervised by a fully licensed driver. 2. An intermediate license that allows unsupervised driving under certain restrictions. 3. A full license
In order to obtain a Learner’s Permit, a driver must be at least fifteen (15) years of age and complete thirty (30) hours classroom instruction and eight (8) hours behind-the-wheel driving instruction. Additionally, they must pass vision exam and knowledge exam with at least 80% accuracy. A Learner’s Permit authorizes them to drive only with a licensed adult at least twenty-one (21) years of age or sibling at least eighteen (18) years of age. They must maintain their learner’s license for a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) days and cannot advance to intermediate stage until they turn 16 years of age.
The next step is issuance of an Intermediate license to further prepare young drivers. It allows an inexperienced young driver time to improve their driving skills while restricting their exposure. An intermediate Louisiana License restricts the times of day that 18 can drive and also the number of passengers in their vehicle. In order to obtain an Intermediate License, an applicant must:
- Must have completed STAGE 1, Learner’s permit.
- Must be a minimum of sixteen (16) years of age.
- Must pass the road skills driving test with at least 80% accuracy.
- Is prohibited from driving between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., unless accompanied by a licensed adult at least twenty-one (21) years of age or sibling at least eighteen (18) years of age. Additionally, between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., an intermediate licensee may not transport more than one passenger under the age of twenty-one (21) years of age that is not a member of the immediate family.
- Must be maintained until seventeenth (17th) birthday.
After the one year period or once the minor reaches age seventeen, he may qualify for a permanent Class “E” license.
STAGE 3: Full License
1. Must successfully complete STAGES 1 AND 2 or
2. Must be at least seventeen (17) years of age prior to application for first license. NOTE: Effective 08/01/2012, applicants eighteen (18) years of age or above who have not entered the graduated licensing program may apply for full Class E license or a learner’s permit upon completion of a thirty-eight (38) hour driver’s education course or a six (6) hour pre-licensing course and an eight hour behind-the-wheel course. An out-of-state applicant, sixteen (16) years of age who has had a license or permit for a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) days may be eligible to bypass the learner’s permit stage and be issued an intermediate license.
Be sure and check with the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles for any updates to the above.
Acadiana’s young drivers guidance from their parents and mentors to avoid becoming a statistic. Take the time to educate teens on the responsibilities that come with a Louisiana driver’s license. In the unfortunate event your teen or loved one is injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, call the personal injury legal team at Joseph Joy and Associates in Lafayette.
Call us at (337) 232-8123 for a phone appointment.