Teen drivers are some of the most vulnerable motorists on the road. The simple and unavoidable fact of their inexperience means they have less knowhow as they navigate various driving hazards, changing weather conditions and unexpected situations on the road, not to mention less experience with handling and controlling the vehicle. Tragically, the number of teen car crash fatalities in Colorado increased last year, a troubling development our law firm wants to help address. Please read below for more information about this issue and what you can do to prevent teen driving accidents.
Teen Traffic Fatalities Up 22% in Colorado Last Year
In 2017, 67 people between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to a recent report from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). In 2016, 55 teens in that age group were killed in these incidents, so there was a 22 percent increase in such deaths last year. Tragically, 2017 had the highest number of traffic deaths in that age group since 2008.
Each one of these deaths is an irrevocable loss. Our hearts go out to the families affected. While nothing can undo those losses, we do hope to provide education and awareness to help prevent similar fatalities today.
How Does Graduated Driver Licensing Help?
The Colorado Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law is designed to account for lack of teen driver experience. According to CDOT, the GDL program was created in 1999, when a tragic accident in Greeley killed a 16-year-old driver and his 3 teen passengers. The young driver had just recently received his driver's license and reportedly failed to stop at a stop sign.
The GDL program recognizes that teens build their driving skills gradually, and that establishing certain restrictions allow them the time to build these skills while mitigating the risks of their inexperience.
Restrictions in place for GDL include:
- Limited number and age of passengers
- Banned cell phone use
- Required seat belt use for all passengers and the driver, all of the time
- Curfew: Driving not permitted between midnight and 5 a.m. the first year of your license
- Required driver education
There are exceptions and the restrictions may vary by county. Visit the CDOT teen driving page for more information.
Curfew and passenger restrictions were added to the law in 2002. There was a 67 percent drop in deaths of teens age 15-19 from 2002 to 2011, after these changes were made. Graduated licensing laws decrease teen deaths, and they are an important way to prevent injury to our children.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Teen
For many parents, teaching their teenage children to drive is nothing if not nerve-wracking. Take a few deep breaths, remember to be patient and remind yourself that this is your opportunity to instill safe driving habits.
Here are a few tips for teaching your teen how to drive:
- Learn and remember the teen driving restrictions in Colorado
- Make sure your head is clear and you are in the right frame of mind for driving with your teen
- Schedule plenty of time when you go out to practice driving, so that neither you nor your teen feels rushed
- Build up to traffic and crowded roads gradually, with driving first around parking lots and quiet streets
- When you are first teaching them to drive, go out in sunny, clear weather, gradually building up to more difficult conditions and low light
- Begin with the basics – parking, reversing and braking – then build up to advanced skills like merging, changing lanes, intersections, etc.
You are a role model for your teen driver. Teaching them how to drive takes place even when you are the one behind the wheel. You should model good driving behavior like staying calm, defensive driving and attentive driving. Don't use your phone! Texting and driving are one of the factors that contribute to teen driving accidents.
What to Do if Someone has Already Been Injured
Accidents happen all the time, oftentimes despite our best efforts to lower our risk. You cannot control the behavior of other people, and you or your teen may find yourself facing the aftermath of a serious accident. In Boulder, Colorado, car accident attorney Chris Jeffress fights aggressively on behalf of people who have suffered injuries because of someone else's negligence. To arrange a complimentary consultation, please call our Northern Colorado law firm at 303-732-6634.