04 Jan Young Drivers Cause Nearly a Third of Accidents
For households with current or aspiring teen aged drivers, there is sobering news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).According to the federal agency, “In 2010, about 2,700 teens in the United States aged 16–19 were killed and almost 282,000 were treated and released from emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes. Young people ages 15-24 represent only 14% of the U.S.population. However, they account for 30% ($19 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28% ($7 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among females.”
As frightening is that “the death rate for male drivers and passengers age 16 to 19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts.” There is a high correlation between accidents involving young drivers and the presence of their peer group in the vehicle.
These chilling statistics may be positively impacted by driver restrictions in Maine. The 125th Maine Legislature passed stiffer requirements for youthful and new drivers that will mandate more supervised time behind the wheel with fewer distractions. According to the Maine Bureau of Insurance, drivers under the age of 18 must hold their permit for at least six months while being supervised by a licensed adult 20 years or older who has held a license for at least two years.
To receive a license, all drivers under age 18 must be at least 16 years old and must have completed an approved driver education course. They must also log at least 35 hours of driving with at least 5 hours completed after dark. Once a newly licensed driver under age 18 is issued a restricted license, he or she may not do any of the following for the first 9 months (270 days):
- Carry passengers other than immediate family members
- Operate a vehicle between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Use any handheld device, including a cell phone, while operating the vehicle.
Any violation of those restrictions forces the young driver to start his or her probationary period all over again as well as a suspension of driving privileges. In addition, fines for texting have increased from $100 to $250 for all drivers. In addition to state law,consistently enforced rules of conduct between parents and young drivers will help keep teenagers safe. The state offers a model contract on its web site as well as a guide for teen drivers.