Watchdog Group Wants Tougher Highway Safety Laws in California for Teen Drivers
While California has among the nation’s best highway safety laws when it comes to protecting people, its laws governing teen drivers need to be toughened, a report by the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, a nonpartisan watchdog group has found. According to a report in The Sacramento Bee, the advocacy group that studies that effectiveness of laws that are aimed at curbing distracted driving and seatbelt use, found that California did well in 10 out of 16 areas studied, notably when it comes to restrictions on DUI drivers, child protection and seat belt requirements. However, the state faltered when it came to laws involving teen drivers and on ignition locks to deter drunk driving.
Call for More Restrictions
According to the report, in the decade between 2009 and 2018, there were 4,074 fatalities in the state caused by car accidents involving drivers between the ages of 15 and 20. California is poorly rated in lacking nighttime restrictions for such drivers, or restrictions on passengers.
California does require that new drivers, at least in their first year, not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. These new drivers also cannot transport passengers under 20 unless accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian. The Advocates group wants the nighttime ban to begin at 10 p.m. and the night and passenger restrictions to be in effect until age 18. The state also gets an average rating for efforts to discourage distracted driving. While it bans text messaging during driving, the organization finds its efforts to restrict cell phone use as inadequate.
Risk Factors for Teen Drivers
The traffic accident rates for 16 to 19-year old drivers in California are higher than those for any other age group. Teens tend to take more risks while driving such as tailgating, running red lights, speeding, violating traffic signs and signals, making illegal turns, passing dangerous and failing to yield to pedestrians. Teens also tend to wear seatbelts less often than older drivers.
Also, for teens, the risk of being in a crash increases when they transported passengers. The fatality risk of drivers aged 16 to 17 years is 3.6 times higher when they are driving with passengers than when they are driving alone. Also, the per-mile crash rate for teen drivers is three times higher after 9 p.m. during the day. This is because night driving requires more skill and experience.
Due to these risk factors, it would be a good idea for California to impose an earlier nighttime driving curfew and enact more stringent laws when it comes to teens transporting passengers. Our California car accident attorneys hope these laws are passed so our teen drivers and others on the roadway are safer.