Teenage drivers are three times more likely to be involved in deadly crashes than all other motorists.  This is likely due to the teenager’s inexperience with driving, coupled with immaturity, and a higher likelihood of taking risks while behind the wheel. In light of this staggering statistic, Congress designated the third week in October as National Teen Driver Safety Week.  This campaign is designed to bring parents, teenagers, educators and community leaders together, to raise awareness and help prevent teen driver crashes.

To keep teenage drivers safer on the roads, Georgia has enacted Graduated Driver Licensing laws, which include a tiered system of age requirements, waiting periods, and permissions.  In Georgia, at age 15, teenagers can apply for an instructional or learner’s permit; this allows them to drive with a supervising adult (21 or older) licensed motorist.  At 16, the teenager can apply for an intermediate or provisional driver’s license; this allows them to drive between 5 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. with family member passengers.  At 18, teenagers can apply for a full, unrestricted driver’s license.  (See http://www.dds.ga.gov/teens/index.aspx for the full list of application requirements and driving restrictions).

In order to develop their safe driving skills, teenagers have a number of responsibilities to which they must adhere. The first is to wear their seat belt. These devices save lives and can protect both the driver and the passengers. Everyone in the car should always buckle-up. The second is to avoid distractions while driving. When a driver is operating a vehicle, that should be their main focus – not eating, drinking, grooming, or adjusting the radio. Georgia now has the Hands-Free Distracted Driving Law in place, which prohibits all drivers (not just teenagers) from using a cell phone or other hand-held electronic devices while driving. (For more on the Hands-Free Distracted Driving Law, visit our blog).

Another Georgia law teenagers should be aware of relates to school buses. When driving to school or near a campus, teen drivers should maintain a wide distance between their vehicle and a school bus. They need to be prepared for the bus to make frequent or unexpected stops, and to yield to buses that are turning or merging into traffic. Georgia has a new law in place that stipulates that if a regular vehicle and a school bus are driving in opposite directions on a divided highway, and the bus stops with its flashing stop sign arm extended, the driver of the vehicle is not required to stop for the school bus. They need to use caution only. If the vehicle and the school bus are driving opposite directions on a two-lane road when the stop bus stops, the traffic in each direction still has to stop.

In addition to avoiding distractions and following the new Georgia laws on phones and school buses, teenage drivers should also take care not to drive while drowsy. Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult when a teenager or cramming for a test or working late on an extracurricular project, but it is dangerous to get behind the wheel when you are tired. When experienced drivers are sleepy, they tend to forget their safe driving habits, as well as having slowed response times. On top of that, in October the days are getting shorter and many teenagers are commuting to school or work when it is dark outside. Visibility and alertness are already an issue.

Teenagers who follow the Georgia licensing procedures and traffic laws should be well on their way to safe driving record. However, accidents do happen. If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a collision and needs help with a personal injury claim, give Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore, LLC a call today at (404) 436-1529.

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