What Should Parents Know about Teens and Reckless Driving?
More than any other age group, teenage drivers and their passengers have a greater chance to die in a car accident. This alarming trend has occurred with every generation of new drivers, who are the most inexperienced and perhaps the most careless. In fact, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in young people. To prevent reckless driving, it is crucial for teens and their parents to understand why it happens.
Some Reasons Why Teens Drive Recklessly
Inexperience. While enjoying the new experience of driving, newly licensed teenagers may neglect the importance of safety. Not wearing a seat belt, driving over the speed limit, or following other vehicles too closely are among many careless driving habits that may put lives in danger. Teenagers may not understand this, because their inexperience behind the wheel may not reveal these deadly consequences until it is too late.
There are many situations on the road that can be very dangerous to an inexperienced driver. The best way to prepare is to understand that driving carelessly can turn a normal situation into a deadly one. Parents, guardians, and instructors must stress this lesson while teaching their teen how to drive.
Distractions. More and more car accidents happen because of distracted driving, and teenagers have many distractions, often attempting to juggle multiple things at once. Smartphones and social media apps increase distractions immensely and must be put away before getting behind the wheel. Tasks such as taking a sip of coffee or adjusting the radio keeps the driver’s focus off the road and can easily lead to an accident. Even reading a text message diverts a driver’s eyes for at least a few seconds, and a vehicle traveling at 50 mph can cover the distance of a football field in that time.
Passengers. Teenagers and their peers are reveling in their new experiences together, and there are not many as exciting as beginning to drive. But having other teen passengers in the car can be very distracting to an inexperienced driver still learning. Parents should be mindful how many passengers their teenager will be transporting and should consider placing a limit of having only one teen passenger.
What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is when a driver operates a vehicle, either knowingly or unknowingly, in a dangerous manner that may harm a person or property. All 50 states prohibit reckless driving but may define the offense differently. Reckless driving and other traffic-related offenses may be charged as citation, misdemeanor, or felony, likely depending on the nature of the driver’s recklessness and how much damage they inflicted.
Reckless driving offenses in Washington DC can also be charged as aggravated reckless driving, in which a driver has:
- Caused significant injury to either a person or
- Caused property damage over $1000 or
- Driven 30 mph over the posted speed limit.
As with other states, reckless driving offenses are treated on a case-by-case basis in Washington DC, and the penalties depend on the driver’s history. A first-time offense for a reckless driving charge can mean up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. A third-time offense can lead to a year in jail and up to $2500 in fines. Aggravated reckless driving charges are doubled: first-time charge is 180 days and $1000, and it worsens with each subsequent charge. Reckless driving charges can also include demerit points on a driver’s record, as well a suspended license or forfeiture of license.
Some states separate reckless driving from negligent driving, where a driver causes an accident because of poor driving. A reckless driving charge normally would have to prove the driver drove dangerously on purpose, but it may be difficult to distinguish the two. It is best to contact a knowledgeable car accident lawyer to answer any questions and help with the case.
Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Teen Drivers and Their Families with Reckless Driving Cases
Teenagers are still developing and learning the nuances of the world and need the right guidance from their parents and role models. This is especially true when learning how to drive; teens need to be aware of the dangers of driving carelessly. If you or your teen driver has been injured by reckless driving, or has been charged with reckless driving, contact the Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King immediately. Our experienced team can help build your case and achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family. Call us at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, DC, we work with car accident victims in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, and Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.