FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-12-11
A multitude of strategies and smart public policies can help keep our highways safer for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. From smart highway design and drunk driving enforcement, to vehicle safety standards and distracted driving laws, decades of progress have led to reductions in serious and fatal car and truck accidents.
State laws have long recognized that teenagers are generally mature enough to be granted driving privileges. Nonetheless, one important recent development in many states regarding teen drivers is graduated licensing, which restricts driving privileges with respect to time and passengers.
Kansas implemented a graduated driver’s license law in 2010, and early indications suggest that this has significantly reduced the frequency of teen driving accidents. According to data from the Kansas Department of Transportation, teen car accident numbers dropped from an average of more than 5,000 several years ago to fewer than 3,000 in 2011, and fatalities have decreased by more than 50 percent.
The Kansas graduated driver’s license law requires all teen drivers 16 and under to have a learner’s permit for one year before they can obtain a restricted license. This means they must be accompanied by a licensed adult in the front seat at all times.
The restricted license allows solo driving only when going to work or school. Even after a driver under 18 receives a full license, he or she cannot use a cell phone, have more than one minor passenger who is not a sibling, or drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. (aside from trips to or from school or work).
Missouri’s graduated licensing law is somewhat less strict, allowing drivers under 18 who have moved beyond their learning permit to drive as late as 1 a.m. For the first six months after receiving a driver’s license, they can have no more than one passenger under 19 and thereafter no more than three young passengers.
Assessing the circumstances behind a car or truck accident
Every motor vehicle accident is the sum of a complex series of moving parts, starting with driver negligence and progressing to less obvious causes such as poor maintenance, truck driver fatigue, or truck driver non-compliance that leads to a truck accident or other motor vehicle accident. Factors such as an inexperienced driver’s failure to perceive or avoid a hazard may not be easy to prove, but evidence that a teen driver violated licensing restrictions can play an important part of a car accident attorney’s case for liability.
One key to effective advocacy for car accident clients is to act as quickly as possible to secure witness testimony and other important evidence of what happened. A personal injury lawyer can best explain the hallmarks of effective legal strategies in an initial consultation.