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Nicoletti Walker Law Group July 8, 2015

A report released earlier this year by AAA alarmed parents of young teen drivers and passengers; the report stated that distracted driving contributes to almost 60 percent of auto crashes involving teens—a statistic that is close to four times higher than previously thought. The findings have some parents wondering if there should be additional limitations placed on young drivers, beyond a simple ban on cell phone use while at the wheel.

Teen Drivers Licenses in Florida

In order to obtain a learner’s license in Florida, you must be at least 15 years old and:

  • Complete a traffic law and substance abuse education course;

  • Complete and submit a parental consent form;

  • Submit proof of identity and residential information;

  • Take a multiple choice test and get 80 percent of the questions correct; and

  • Pass vision and hearing tests.

The next level—intermediate license—for 16 and 17 year olds requires that you not have a single traffic conviction during the year that you have your learner’s license, obtain at least 50 hours of driving experience, and pass a driving test.

Distraction Left Unaddressed

Sadly, these requirements do not address the issue of distraction. Not only does Florida have one of the weakest seatbelt enforcement laws, but the biggest issue found for teens—being distracted by having a number of passengers in the car—is left completely unaddressed by the law. This leaves parents on their own in trying to prevent distraction and keep their teen(s) out of danger.

Although cell phones are banned for use while driving by state law, enforcement remains an issue, allowing drivers who try to quickly use their phone to, in reality, take their eyes off the road for at least 4 seconds, which does not allow for time to brake or steer away from a potential crash.

Protect Your Teen Driver

If you have any teen drivers in the family, think about taking precautions to ensure that they do not fall victim to distracted driving by having them sign a contract promising to:

  • Limit the number of passengers riding in their car;

  • Put the cell phone aside while driving;

  • Avoid distracted behavior such as grooming themselves, reaching for objects in the car, and taking their eyes off the road while driving;

  • Enroll in a driving course;

  • Practice as much as possible before driving on their own; and

  • Abide by a curfew to avoid late-night driving.

Seek Experienced Counsel

If you are dealing with a teen accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help your family through the process. Evidence critical to showing who was at fault may be lost if action is not taken quickly, as it can disappear. In addition, any statements made to the other driver or insurance company can limit the recovery you might otherwise receive.

If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident, contact Mike Walker to discuss your personal injury case. Attorney Walker regularly assists clients in Clearwater and is prepared to help you today.