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The NHTSA Sponsors National Teen Driver Safety Week October 19th-25th

Florida Traffic Ticket LawyerNational Teen Driver Safety Week is in full swing and parents of teen drivers are urged to educate their loved ones to the dangers of distracted driving. This is particularly true for Florida residents as Florida currently ranks second in the nation for fatal crashes, with teen drivers accounting for a significantly higher number of those crashes in comparison to other age groups. It isn’t just teens who need to be privy to this information. Any novice driver could make pivotal mistakes — the kind of mistakes that take lives, ruin futures and alter physical and mental states for years to come. In order to better understand what National Teen Driver Safety Week is all about, here is a recap of the points being raised, along with the statistical data that supports the information.

Facts and Figures Related to Teen Driving

  • The National Center for Health Statistics and several other government organizations found fatal car crashes to be the leading cause of death in teenagers and young 20 year olds.
  • In 2012, 2,823 teenagers lost their lives on the road in a fatal car crash.
  • Programs, conversations and overall awareness is working — teen driving fatalities are in decline.
  • Even with a more than 7% decrease, teen drivers still account for the most fatalities on the road.
  • Leading causes of teen accidents include driving while distracted and driving under the influence.
  • Driving under the influence was found to be more prevalent in male teens, who incidentally, have experienced more fatalities than their female teenage driving counterparts.

What it Means to be a Novice Driver

Novice drivers are more at risk for collisions due to their lack of experience and education. For this reason, when picturing a teen driver, you should bear in mind the fact that the twenty something year olds who have just retained licenses fall into this at risk category as well. In order to shed a well needed light on this topic, the NHTSA is directing some attention in the direction of older novice drivers during this year’s safety week. National statistics show that delayed licensing is a trend, particularly in lower income areas where the price of classes, licensing and motor vehicles could put a burden on the family. In instances where drivers delay obtaining licenses, they too, should be made aware of novice driver risks.

What Needs to be Discussed with Novice Drivers — Teen or Older

The NHTSA is putting a strong emphasis on distracted driving since statistics allude to the fact that the majority of national collisions are caused by distracted driving. The NHTSA has put together a comprehensive list entitled 5 to drive which covers the top five dangers most likely to cause a life altering crash.

  1. No Cell Phones

The NHTSA is urging novice drivers to avoid using the cell phone in the car. This means no texting, no talking, no web surfing etc… All of these could cause a distraction that could lead to a fatal or hurtful collision.

  1. No Extra Passengers

Collision statistics indicate as much as a 44% increased risk for each additional passenger on board with a teen or novice driver. In many teen driving collisions, the additional passengers are the ones who are at higher risk for fatality.

  1. No Speeding

Approximately 48% of fatal teen crashes involve excessive speeds. Novice drivers might not be fully aware of the impact a slight increase in mph can cause, especially when combined with number 4.

  1. No Alcohol/ Intoxicants

28% of fatal teen collisions involve alcohol and DUI manslaughter isn’t the charge any parent would want their teenager facing.

  1. Buckle Up

Of the 15-20 year olds involved in recent fatal crashes, an approximated 55% of them weren’t wearing a safety belt.

The urge to stay alive usually outweighs the urge to keep up appearances for young drivers. Often, their irresponsible behavior on the road is a reflection of their lack of knowledge and experience. Talk to a novice driver you know this week, or next month or any time the mood strikes you. One conversation could save countless lives.

Australian Girl Tells Police “I Just Don’t Care” After Injuring Bicyclist While Texting and Driving

In September, an Australian girl hit a bicyclist stopped on the side of the road while she was texting and driving.  According to police, in the minutes before the accident, she had been texting with seven different phone numbers and had sent 44 texts while driving over the span of 20 minutes.  One text was sent just seconds before phone records show she called police about the accident.

According to the police report, the girl hit the bicyclist, parked her car and called the Australian version of 911, but refused to check on the man that she hit or speak to anyone at the scene.  A few days later when speaking to police, she told them that “I just don’t care because I have already been through a lot of bullsh!t and my car is, like, pretty expensive and now I have to fix it”.  She also seemed to be angry with the man on the bicycle for hitting her car.  The victim of the accident sustained serious spinal injuries and it is possible that he could end up a paraplegic.  He spent three months in the hospital.

While awaiting trial for driving while texting, the girl had her license suspended and posted multiple updates on Facebook about not having her license with comments about how much it sucked, how it was coming from the moment she got the keys and how she was hoping she could get a better picture taken for her license when she got it back.  She appeared to believe from her Facebook posts that she would be getting her license back in May, but a judge saw things differently, pulling her license for an additional 9 months at her trial on April 15, 2014.

While this case is one where Australian law was applied, texting while driving is a problem in this country as well, with many states combating it with new laws.  Florida is one of those states, but the fight against texting and driving here has been difficult.  In October, a ban on texting on driving went into place in Florida, however, it is less comprehensive than many other states.

In Florida, someone can be fines $30 for texting while driving, but it is considered a secondary offense.  This means that someone can only be cited for it if they do something else illegal at the same time, such as running a red light or speeding.  Florida law only allows for police to pull a person’s phone records to prove they were texting while driving if there is a death or personal injury and that is the suspect cause.  Unlike many other states in this country, there is no ban on talking on the phone while driving.

One Florida lawmaker has been making a push towards criminalizing causing a death while texting and driving, something that does not exist under the current law.  Under the proposed law, someone could get the equivalent sentence as they would get for vehicular manslaughter if someone were killed in an accident caused by texting and driving.  It remains to be seen if this law will pass and be signed and considering that the recent ban on texting and driving was considered to be a hard sell, passage of the new bill seems unlikely.