Coming of age to get your driver’s license is an exciting phase in anyone’s life; after all, once you get it you are no longer dependent on your parents or friends to take you where you need to go. As someone who is just stepping into this new phase, you want to be extra careful and ensure that you avoid a student driver accident at all costs. To this end, you will be undergoing the right training from professionals and also perhaps, asking your parents or older siblings for tips and guidance on driving safe and secure.

The likelihood of you having a student driver accident is negligible if you diligently pay attention in driver’s ed class and also to the rules of the road. However, it is equally an important part of your driver’s education to know what happens if you ever are in this situation.

What do the statistics say?

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s numbers for the year 2017, drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were responsible for about 8% of the overall costs of injuries arising from motor vehicle accidents. Slightly over $13 billion of the total motor vehicles, injuries cost in this year can be attributed to accidents involving teen drivers. The data also showed that:

  • The age group 16- 19 seems particularly vulnerable when it comes to motor vehicle crashes. Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens
  • Male drivers seem to be a higher risk than female drivers, with numbers from this year indicating that teen boys are twice as likely as teen girls to get into a car crash
  • The risk of a student driver accident is far higher right after the driver gets the license, within the first year, in fact

Some general facts and figures from

  • Speeding is the most common reason for motor crash fatalities, contributing to about 1/3rd of such incidents over the past 20 years
  • Teens often think that driving some 5 to 10 mph over the allowed speed limit is ‘okay’
  • One of the main causes of fatal driving accidents is a distraction and very often this happens due to electronic devices
  • In a whopping 90% of car crashes, it is possible to trace out driver-related factors such as distraction, exhaustion, inexperience

The purpose behind listing out these facts is not to scare young drivers like you away but to make it clear that when you learn to drive, safety is of paramount importance. Taking adequate care especially with respect to the common risk factors will help you enjoy a safe, secure driving experience lifelong.

Major risk factors for teen drivers:

From the data collected from car accidents across the country, a few common risk factors emerge with respect to accidents involving teen or student drivers. Keep these in mind so that you know when to be extra careful to avoid any potential mishap:

  • Young drivers are unable to spot dangerous situations with the same efficiency as experienced ones
  • Teen drivers may be more likely to make erroneous decisions in a crunch that result in a serious crash
  • Student drivers often fail to use seatbelts. The fatality rate escalates tremendously among non- seat belt wearing student drivers
  • Drinking and driving is far more common among teens than adults, even though there are strict laws against it
  • Experts hold that young drivers often fail to allow adequate headway between their vehicle and the ones ahead or behind
  • Speeding is more common among younger drivers than adults
  • Nighttime driving inexperience contributes substantially to teen driver accidents

The importance of effective driver’s education

Let’s face it! Driving is far more than just sliding behind the wheel and gunning the engine. This is a complex skillset that you absolutely have to learn patience and master before you start going out on your own in your vehicle. Remember that when you are behind the wheel you are responsible for not just your own life, but that of your passengers, the pedestrians on the road, and also other motorists. You have several lives to think about. There is no room for carelessness.

The Graduated Driving Licensing systems in use now have brought down the fatality rates among newly licensed young drivers with the more comprehensive of these programs being more effective as per the CDC. The GDL system hinges upon more extensive practice sessions for the student drivers and more involvement from the parents as well. In addition, it also places restrictions on driving under high-risk conditions for new drivers.

What can you do to prevent student driver accidents?

As a student driver, there are some things you can do to ensure that you neither risk yourself nor anyone else when you are out practicing your newly learned skills or driving out initially after you have received your license. Here are a few tips:

  • Practice does make perfect so practicing more, with an experienced adult riding with you is the simplest, most effective way to avoid driving accidents
  • Listen to the adult, ask for tips and follow them diligently
  • Try to get in some practice under different conditions- say at different times of the day with varying lighting, at peak traffic time, in an empty road, in by lanes and on highways, on wide roadways and narrow lanes, etc.
  • Avoid nighttime driving until you and the adult helping you practice are both confident about your driving abilities. It may take up to six months for you to get comfortable with driving in the dark, be patient
  • Avoid taking passengers when you are driving anywhere for the first six months after you get your license unless it is the experienced driver accompanying you on your practice session
  • NEVER compromise on seat belt safety, even if you just have to drive down the block. It is just not worth the risk.
  • Familiarize yourself with the laws that apply to you in your state. Remember that these laws may differ from state to state. For example, in California, you may be able to file a claim even if the other driver is not the one completely at fault for the accident. This is because the law here follows the ‘pure comparative negligence’ format

driver training sign

A quick primer on liability in a student driver accident

Whether you are a new driver who has just recently received the driver’s license, or an experienced adult who has been driving without incident for decades, it pays to know what the law says about liability in event of a motor accident. Knowing what laws apply and in what way can ensure that you are treated fairly and that you get the recompense you are entitled to. While the law may be fairly straightforward in situations where two experienced adult drivers are involved, this is not quite so when a young student driver is in the middle of a motor vehicle crash.

Here is how the law perceives things in different scenarios:

  • When you, the student driver, have been negligent: The other driver may be able to file a claim against you and get compensated for injuries or damages. To do so, he will have to prove that you were driving negligently. So, if you ran a red light or failed to signal a turn or drove over the sidewalk or overlooked the regular traffic rules in any way and this caused the accident, you have been negligent and you are liable. The injured party may also be able to claim damages directly from your insurer.
  • When the driver’s ed instructor with you has failed to act in time: The instructor may be liable if he/ she did not act in the expected way to prevent the accident when you were at the wheel. For example, if you took a U-turn where none was allowed and the instructor did not act in time to stop you and correct you, then he/ she would be held liable in an accident that occurred owing to this mistake. In fact, the driving school too may have to pay damages on behalf of its employee and for hiring negligent instructors.
  • When the driving school vehicle is faulty: If the accident occurred when you were in the driving school’s vehicle and the cause for the accident was a malfunction in the vehicle itself, then your driving school is liable to be sued. A combination of factors may cause a student driving accident, perhaps a faulty car plus negligence on part of the instructor. In such cases, the injured party may sue the driving school for both as well as the instructor.
  • When you were driving with your parent at the time of the accident: If the accident occurred when you have a learner’s permit and you were driving with your parent to complete the necessary practice hours, then the parent is deemed liable and their auto insurance covers the claims for damages.

What happens when you get into an accident?

Typically, in a student driver accident, the priority is for you to remember the basic steps to follow, which are as follows:

  • Stay calm and do not give in to panic
  • Get out of the vehicle and stay away to mitigate risk
  • Check if you have any injuries, or if your passenger or others have injuries and go to a hospital if you do. Even if you seem to be fine it might be better to get checked up by a doctor just to eliminate any chance of hidden injuries if the accident has been a fairly serious one.
  • Cooperate with the authorities who arrive there and exchange numbers with those who have been affected in the crash

Now, if you have caused an accident and the other driver is injured or his car has sustained severe damage, what should you expect at the scene of the accident and how should you handle it?

  1. The very first thing (apart from getting medical aid) is that the driver may collect all possible information from you- your name, address, your contact details, the name of your driving school, your instructor’s details, etc.
  2. The authorities (that is, police) will arrive and take down the details of the accident, question you and the other driver and also any witnesses. It will help if you take the contact number of any witnesses as well.
  3. The other driver or the police may take pictures of the accident scene so that the exact happenings can be pieced together and the damage can be accurately evaluated.

Call A Car Accident Lawyer At Quirk Reed LLP Today!

What you need to keep in mind is that California is a comparative negligence state so if the accident is not entirely your fault but the other driver also is partly to blame, you may have a sound case to limit your liability. To prove this is the case, you also need proof of the other driver’s fault in the incident. Taking pictures, collecting the names of witnesses, noting down what exactly happened and what your actions and the other drivers were that lead to the accident- all of these can help prove that it was not just you at fault. Remember that if you can prove this, you mitigate your liability in the accident.

The next step is to call in an experienced Oakland car accident attorney from Quirk Reed LLP. With comprehensive knowledge of the laws governing the state, immense experience in the field, and a committed team that has client interests at the top of the priority list, we are the right people to turn to for help if you have been in a student driver accident. We will guide you on what to do at the accident site and then later, once you are safely back home so that you are treated fairly by the law. Contact us as soon as you find yourself in such a situation so that your rights as a student driver are protected in the best possible way by experts who care.