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Newly Licensed Drivers at Increased Risk for Accidents

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on July 30, 2019

For teenagers, getting a driver’s license is seen as a right of passage, one more step on the road to adulthood. However, a number of studies reveal that teen drivers face risks that older drivers do not.

A 2013 study conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that when teen drivers listened to their favorite music behind the wheel, they exhibited deficient driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, careless lane switching, passing vehicles, and one-handed driving. In addition, a pair of studies conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance suggest that teen drivers carrying multiple passengers of the same age are more likely to be distracted and perform risky driving behaviors like speeding, tailgating, or weaving.

Distractions like friends or music, along with inexperience, may be factors in findings by the National Institutes of Health: that teen drivers are “eight times more likely to be involved in a collision or near miss during the first three months after getting a driver’s license, compared to the previous three months on a learner’s permit.”

Due to the elevated risk of accidents that newly licensed drivers face, Washington State has placed certain restrictions on drivers age 16 through 17 under its Graduated Driver Licensing program.

Washington State Restrictions for Teenage Drivers

Here are the state’s restrictions on new drivers:

  • First of all, there is absolutely no cellphone use allowed while driving. This includes hands-free devices, texting, talking, and taking pictures. The only exception to this rule is in cases of emergency. Unlike the other new driver restrictions, the no-cellphone-use rule is in effect until a driver’s 18 birthday.
  • For the first six months after receiving his license, a new driver is not allowed any passengers under 20 years old. The only exception is for immediate family members.
  • Following the first six months of being a licensed driver, there is another six-month period where no more than three passengers under the age of 20 are allowed. Again, immediate family members are the exception.
  • For the first 12 months after being licensed, a driver is not to drive between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless he or she is accompanied by a licensed driver who is 25 or older. The only exception is for assisting with the transport of agricultural products or supplies, and under the direct supervision of a farmer.

Violating any of these restrictions may result in warning letters, tickets, fines, or the suspension of the driver’s intermediate license. Once the driver turns 18, his intermediate license automatically becomes an unrestricted Washington State driver’s license.

It’s important for parents to have open conversations concerning safe driving with their teenaged children – for their safety, as well as the safety of others.

In the unfortunate event that your teenager is involved in a collision, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney – like those at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. Dial (888) 228-3860 to set up a free case evaluation.

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