Strengthening Teen Driver Requirements in Kentucky Can Prevent Fatal Car Accidents

Pikeville attorney Billy Johnson said that a report from AAA highlights the challenges teen drivers face in Kentucky, but it also points toward a solution.

Pikeville, Kentucky, Oct. 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- While the conversation around distracted teen drivers often centers on the use of mobile devices, a report from AAA suggests that the presence of other teens inside a vehicle greatly increases the chances of a fatal crash.


AAA said that when a teen driver has just one other teenager in the vehicle, the fatality rate for everyone involved in a crash increases by 51 percent. Conversely, when a teen has a passenger that is at least 35 years old, the fatality rate is 8 percent lower.


Billy Johnson, a Pikeville injury attorney, has years of experience representing people injured in serious vehicle crashes. He said that the AAA report captures one of the biggest problems facing young drivers in our state.


“Dozens of people die every year in Kentucky in crashes involving teen drivers,” Johnson said. “Our state has one of the highest rates of teen involvement in fatal crashes. This is clearly a serious problem, but it might also be one that we can fix.”


AAA suggests that states require younger drivers to accumulate 100 hours of driving time under the supervision of a parent before being permitted to drive alone. The current number of hours required is 60.


While this change would likely make roads safer for everyone, it doesn’t address situations in which the rules aren’t being followed, Johnson said.


“Compliance is obviously a critical component of the law’s effectiveness,” he said. “This is where the role of parents with teens becomes essential. We need to come to terms with the fact that drivers without sufficient experience aren’t ready to take on extra passengers.”


The risk of a teen driver being involved in a deadly crash increases dramatically as more passengers enter the vehicle. One teen passenger increases the risk by more than half. Two passengers double the risk. Three or more passengers create four times the risk.


“For some parents, it might seem overbearing or overly strict to tell their teens that they aren’t allowed to drive a friend, but when we look at the numbers from AAA, it’s clear that being stricter is in everyone’s best interests,” Johnson said.


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