Teen Drivers & Distractions in Florida
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 60 percent of all accidents caused by teenage drivers occur due to some type of distraction. This is an alarming statistic, especially when you consider the inexperience of the typical teenage driver. The 60 percent figure is three times the rate of accidents caused by distracted drivers in all age groups.
Florida Regulations for Teen Drivers
Like many states, Florida has a graduated system for teen drivers. That means they earn greater driving privileges the longer they have held a license and not had an accident. The minimum age to receive a driving permit in Florida, also called a learner license, is 15. To receive this provisional license, the 15-year-old must pass tests for rules of the road and road signs as well as complete a course on substance abuse and pass a vision and hearing test.
A teen with a learner license is limited to driving during daylight hours only for the first 90 days. Additionally, an adult licensed driver age 21 or older must sit in the passenger seat. No one else can be in the car. After that, he or she may not be on the road driving past 10:00 p.m.
To qualify for a Florida driver’s license, a person must have reached his or her 16th birthday and have held a learner license for a minimum of one year. He or she cannot have had any violations while driving with a permit. Additional requirements include proof of 50 hours of driving instructions, of which at least 10 must have been at night. Finally, the teen driver needs to pass a road test given by a state examiner.
Once licensed, 16-year-old drivers can only be on the road between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. unless on their way to or from work. At age 17, the time restriction increases to 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. The teen driver must have a supervisor when driving outside of these hours. At age 18, the state lifts all time and supervision requirements.
Teenagers Still Drive Distracted Despite Repeated Warnings
Driver’s education courses for teenagers make a point of discussing the dangers of distracted driving and the consequences for doing so. Despite this, some teenagers don’t have the maturity to put away their phone so they’re not tempted to text, use Snapchat, or browse social media while behind the wheel. These are just some of the most common distractions for young people. Others include:
- Changing the radio station or getting absorbed in the music: Young people often underestimate the time they take their eyes off the road while changing the dial on their car’s radio station. Unfortunately, it takes less than a second of distraction for a serious accident to occur. It’s also common for teens to sing or even dance along to the music to the detriment of paying attention to the road.
- Passengers in the car: Carrying on conversations with other people in the car can be distracting for any driver, but it’s especially problematic for teens when their passengers are other teens. In fact, 15 percent of all driver distraction accidents caused by teenagers is due to paying more attention to passengers than the road.
- Grooming, eating, or drinking: These activities take the focus off what’s ahead of the teen driver and put them on the object of his or her attention. Approximately 12 percent of crashes with teenaged drivers involve one of these activities.
- Sights outside the car: A road sign, someone jogging down the road, or work at a construction site are common examples of things that may pull the teen driver’s attention away from driving. Due to their inexperience, teen drivers are more apt to overcorrect when their attention returns than older drivers.
Have You Been Injured by a Teenage Driver?
Sustaining injuries in any type of auto accident can be traumatic. However, there are specific legal challenges when the driver of the other car is a teenager. Is the teen driver responsible or does the fault lie with his or her parent? This is just one question that Crystal Collins Spencer will help you answer when you pursue a personal injury lawsuit. We invite you to contact her law office in Pensacola at 850-912-8080 to request a free, confidential case review.