Despite the hours of instruction, miles of practice driving, and comprehensive knowledge and skills tests your teen has completed, it’s not easy to turn over the keys to the family car for her first solo drive with a probationary license. There is a good reason for your nervousness. Teens are more likely to be in an accident than other age groups of drivers due to their lack of experience and susceptibility to distraction. Understanding risk factors and adhering to Indiana’s restrictions on teen driving can help keep your teen safe as they build valuable experience.
Top Causes of Teen Car Accidents
In 2014, 2,270 teens were killed and 221,313 were injured in car accidents in the U.S. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens aged 16-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks statistics about teen driving and offers resources to prevent accidents. According to the CDC, the following factors are major contributors to car accidents among teens:
- Age. The younger the driver, the less experience, the more likely it is that an accident will occur. Also related to the age risk factor is the maturity of a driver. A teenage driver is not likely to exhibit the same thought patterns and self-discipline of a more experienced, mature driver.
- Time of day. The time of day that a teenager gets behind the wheel can also play a role in the likelihood of an accident and the severity of that accident. Statistics have shown that fatal teenage auto-accidents commonly occur at night. Night driving requires skill and experience that teenage drivers are likely to be without.
- Having other teenagers in the car. According to the CDC, having other teenagers in the car has been proven to result in more accidents and more fatalities. Teenagers are more likely to take risks and becoming distracted when they have passengers in the car.
- Driving a smaller vehicle or an SUV. Teenagers are more likely to drive a smaller car that does not provide adequate protection in the event of an accident. There are also similar risks associated with SUVs, as a teenager is more likely to roll an SUV due to inexperience in the handling a vehicle that has a higher risk of a rollover due to speeding or over-correcting.
Statistics on teenage car accidents and teenage drivers are frightening. However, many of these risk factors can be reduced if parents take the time to educate their children to help them become smarter AND safer drivers, thus ensuring their safety as well as the safety of everyone else on the road. The state of Indiana helps in the effort by restricting the driving privileges of drivers under the age of 21.
Indiana Probationary Driver’s License Restrictions
Indiana offers a graduated license program in order to help teens gain experience in less risky situations before they are granted full driving privileges at the age of 21. Indiana licensing rules for teens include the following:
- You may obtain a learner’s permit once you are 15 years old and enrolled in an approved driver education program.
- After you have had your permit for at least 180 days and have reached the age of 16 years and 90 days, you may apply for a probationary license. You must have completed the driver education course, 50 hours of supervised driving, and pass a skills test in order to get a license.
- For the first 180 days with a probationary license, you may not drive between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and you may not drive with passengers.
- After 180 days, you may carry passengers, but night driving is still restricted until you turn 18.
- You may apply for an unrestricted license when you turn 21.
It is important that, as a parent, you enforce these state laws so that your teen can gain the necessary experience to become a safe driver. You should also continue to monitor your teen’s driving even after they are permitted to drive alone.
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