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Are You a Parent of a Teen Driver? Know Your Liabilities


In the U.S, the risk of motor vehicle accidents is the highest among teens in the 16-19 year category. Teens in this age group are thrice as likely to be involved in a motor crash as compared to drivers that are 20 and above.

Because teens are at a higher risk of accidents, their parents are likelier to face liabilities that result from such incidents.

A further analysis of high risk groups reveals that male drivers in the age of 16-20 are at a high risk. Teen drivers with teen passengers are at a higher risk because of a number of contributing factors coming together. These include alcohol, distractions, speeding, and driving through work zones. Newly licensed teen drivers are the most vulnerable to accidents. The statistics for fatalities involving drivers in the 16-17-year age group are higher than those for drivers in the 18-19 year age group.

It is worth noting here that teens in this age group constitute a mere 7% of all motor vehicle drivers in the U.S. They account for more than $10 billion in motor vehicle accident costs in the U.S, that is around 11% of the costs.

Texas is among those states in the U.S that does not follow the “family car doctrine”. Under this doctrine, the parent’s liability arises from the fact that the parent supplied the car to the teen. But you may be found liable under the concept of negligent entrustment, wherein the car owner is held responsible for an accident happening because of a reckless or incompetent driver.

In order to prove a parent’s liability, it is essential to prove the following four things –

  1. The parents gave the car to the teen.
  2. The parents were negligent; i.e. they knew that the teen should not be behind the wheel.
  3. The teen was responsible for the accident.
  4. If the accident caused can be shown as the proximate result of the car being given by the parent to the teen.

If you’re a parent of a teen, then you should do what you can to protect yourself against liabilities arising from a possible motor vehicle crash involving your teen ward.

Teens in Texas need to participate in a graduated license program before becoming eligible for a full driver’s license. Under this program, the teen needs to obtain a learner’s license, and in six months, the teen may acquire a provisional license provided there are no accidents and traffic violations against the teen’s name. The teen cannot drive between midnight and 5 am unless it is for work or education. The teen driver can have only one passenger who is not a family member. By age 18, the teen may acquire a full license, but only if he or she has a spotless driving record.

Try not to encourage the teen to drive during evenings. This is when most accidents involving teens occur. Discourage the teen from carrying too many passengers in the vehicle. Inform the teen about the hazards of texting and driving, drunk driving, and speeding.

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