We are in the midst of the deadliest stretch of the year on the road for our teen drivers.
The American Automobile Association reports the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the 100 Deadliest Days for teenage drivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports six teens ages 15-19 die every day in car accidents in the United States. Many other motorists are injured or killed in collisions caused by teen drivers.
AAA is focusing on several of the most common causes, including speeding (29 percent of all fatal accidents involving teenagers) and night driving (more than one-third of teen crashes occur between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.).
Rhode Island's graduated licensing law, RI Gen L § 31-10-6 (2012), attempts to reduce the risks by granting driving privileges to teens in stages. However, as we approach the end of summer, parents are encouraged to do their part to remind teens of the risk of traffic collisions and the responsibility that comes with having a driver's license.
Causes of Teen Driving Crashes in Rhode Island
Teens already face a higher risk of being involved in a collision than any other age group. Not until drivers reach the age of 75 do their accident risks begin to approach the risks faced by motorists ages 15-20.
An experienced Providence car accident lawyer knows there are many common causes of traffic collisions involving teenagers:
- Teens are more likely to underestimate the danger of a hazardous situation and are more likely to make critical driving errors that result in a crash.
- Teens are more likely to follow too closely, leaving less time to react to avoid a collision.
- Teens have lower seat belt use than any other age group.
- Teens in motor-vehicle collisions are more likely to have been drinking.
- Teens are more prone to distraction, including the use of hand-held electronic devices and the presence of multiple passengers.
Talking to your teenagers about the risks can help keep them safer and reduce the chances they will be found liable in the event of a crash.
Liability for Teen Driving Accidents in Rhode Island
Rhode Island's parental responsibility law can be found in Rhode Island General Laws section 9-1-3 . The law makes parents liable for damage caused by willful or malicious actions of a dependent minor. R.I.G.L. § 31-10-15 provides for parental liability for negligent actions of teen drivers: The parent/adult who signs the permit or license of a person under 18 "shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages caused by the minor's negligence or willful misconduct."
Joint and several liability means parents can be held responsible for an entire judgment, even if there is more than one named defendant.
Updating your auto insurance policy is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from liability. Rhode Island's auto insurance law requires all motorists carry minimum coverage of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident, which unfortunately is not enough to cover the cost of many crashes. Fortunately, Rhode Island is one of the few states that also mandates uninsured motorist (UM)/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This coverage will protect your and your family if an accident occurs with an at-fault driver who lacks insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover all damages.
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash, contact Law Office of Mark B. Morse, LLC and find out how we can help you.