There’s no doubt that driving on Houston roads is dangerous. Add teen drivers to the mix, and the chances of being in a motor vehicle collision spike drastically. While driving is a big step toward independence for teens, it’s also an enormous responsibility that requires extensive training, attention, and caution. When teens fail to exercise due care, the consequences can be devastating for all who share the road.
At Sutliff & Stout, our Houston teen driving accident lawyers can provide the legal guidance you need if you were hurt by the negligence of a teen driver. For more information about the risks of teenage drivers, review some of the main questions regarding the concerns of teen driving and motor vehicle collisions here in Houston below.
What Causes Teen Driving Accidents in Houston?
In Texas, there were over 211,000 car accidents caused by teen drivers in 2017. The most apparent reason why teens pose a threat on the road is because of a lack of experience. It takes time to feel confident behind the wheel and in different driving situations—something teens just don’t have right away. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teen drivers are likely engaging in the following actions at the time of an accident:
- Driving with teenage passengers
- Driving under the influence
- Not using or properly wearing seatbelts
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- Nighttime driving
- Drowsy driving
As teens gain familiarity with driving, many believe they’re invincible. What’s more is that teens may feel peer pressured to drink and drive. Others simply feel compelled to show off their driver’s licenses and cars to friends.
What Is Texas’s Graduated Driver License Program for Teens?
Immaturity, inexperience, and vulnerability to distractions are some of the major contributing factors to the high collision rates among teen drivers. Because of this, the state of Texas put a graduation driver licensing (GDL) program into effect, which can be found on The Texas Department of Public Safety’s website.
The program helps teens get their full license in phases. At age 14, teens should begin taking a driver’s ed program. Following this step is the first phase of the GDL program: applying for a learner’s permit at age 15, which expires after 6 months or on their 16th birthday. Then, teens will need to apply for a provisional license at age 16, which expires when the applicant turns 18 years old. At 18 years old, the applicant can apply for a full license. All phases impose specific driving restrictions on teens like curfews and the supervision of an adult while driving.
Can Parents Be Liable for Teen Driving Accidents in Houston?
Most states follow a family car doctrine principle, which extends liability to the owner of a motor vehicle for any property damage or injuries caused by a family member. Texas, on the other hand, follows a negligent entrustment doctrine. A vehicle owner, such as a parent, can be held liable for the negligence of an entrusted driver if these three elements are proven:
- The vehicle owner knew or should have known that the person entrusted was reckless, incompetent, or unlicensed
- The vehicle owner allowed the vehicle to be driven by another person
- The person entrusted with the vehicle was negligent, causing the accident and injuries
For example, if a teen asks their father to drive their car to go eat lunch with a friend and the father was aware that the teen has been drinking underage or has recently received a speeding ticket, then the father may be held liable for the accident.
Contact a Houston Teen Driving Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident involving a careless teen driver, establishing parental responsibility may be your only option for securing monetary compensation for your losses. It’d be to your advantage to speak with an experienced teen driving accident attorney at Sutliff & Stout—we’re dedicated to serving injured accident victims throughout Houston, Texas. When minors cause an accident, legal matters can get complicated. Sutliff & Stout is more than capable of handling your case strategically and efficiently.
Injured? Don’t hesitate. Schedule a free, no-obligation case review to discuss your car accident case with one of our Board-Certified attorneys today by calling (713) 987-7111 or completing our contact form. We also have video consultations available.