Alabama recently found itself at the top of a very grim list. According a recent report by CBS 42, Alabama is second in the nation for the number of teenagers killed in vehicle accidents. Though there is an Graduated License Law on the books in the state, not many people are aware of it or take its regulations seriously.
The Alabama graduated license law exists because teens lack experience in a variety of driving situations such as split-second decision making, poor weather conditions and high traffic areas make them significantly more likely to be involved in an auto accident. The law requires 16-year-old drivers and some 17-year-olds to have six months supervised driving with a parent or guardian before being turned loose on their own. The second step of the law places a curfew in effect from midnight until 6:00 a.m. There are only a handful of exceptions to the curfew and these include being accompanied by a parent or guardian, travel to or from an event sponsored by school or religious organization, travel to or from work or driving for the purpose of a medical, fire or law-enforcement related emergency.
The law also limits the number of non-family member passengers in the car to 1, and bans the use of all handheld electronic devices. The problem is that the law is only enforceable as a secondary offense, meaning teens must have been pulled over for something else before officers can raise the issue. Any drivers found in violation of the law are given the rather toothless punishment of six more months of restricted driving. Once a driver turns 18 years old they are no longer subject to the graduated licensing system.
While the law serves as a good first step towards the state reducing its alarmingly high teen death rate, it is so little understood as to be useless. Citizens have to know about a law before their behavior can change in response. If no one understands the process then the law will have little if any impact.
This awareness needs to occur not only among teens but parents as well as they are often the keeper of the family’s car keys. Parents must do more to ensure their children follow the laws of Alabama which will help keep everyone safer. Safe Kids Alabama Coordinator Marie Crew is eager to raise awareness among parents with recently acquired grant money. Crew says she wants parents to know, “just because there is a graduated license law doesn’t mean you can’t have stricter laws in your house. Remember it’s your keys, your car, your kid.”
As Huntsville car wreck attorneys, we routinely see the devastating aftermath of collisions caused by such accidents. If you’ve been the victim of such an accident and need help navigating confusing legal waters, contact our skilled Alabama car accident lawyers today.
Source: “Teen Driving Safety,” by Sherri Jackson, published at CBS42.com (story no longer available from source).