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Teen Driving

The fiery crash that killed five teenagers last weekend during a late-night drive from Knott’s Scary Farm was a sad reminder that traffic accidents are the No. 1 killer of American teenagers. Almost 3,000 13- to 19-year-olds die in auto crashes each year in the U.S., according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. More than 400,000 more are injured.

Teenage brains are not hardwired the same as adult brains and they do not comprehend the consequences of risky driving behaviors. According to NHTSA, a teenage driver is 2-1/2 times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger and three times more likely with multiple teenage passengers. Speed was a factor in 35 percent of fatal crashes involving a teen driver in 2011, according to NHTSA. More than half of teen occupants of passenger vehicles who died in crashes weren’t wearing seat belts.

California teen drivers are subject to so-called provisional license restrictions. Any licensed driver under the age of 18 is subject to provisional restrictions. For the first 12 months, a driver must be accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian, an instructor or another licensed driver who is at least 25 years old, during the following situations:

  • Carrying passengers who are 20 years old or younger
  • Driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

California DMV has a FAQ page to help clarify the provisional licensing rules for teen drivers and to give parents and teens resources that can help in discussions about driver safety here: California Department of Motor Vehicles official website.

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