Parents in California are no doubt aware that teenage drivers, with their lack of experience, tend to get distracted more easily. While smartphones play a prominent role in many teen car crashes, they are far from the only distraction: Having a peer in the car is another. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that teens are 44% more likely to crash when a peer is riding with them.
Ideally, teens should not take on any young passengers for their first year as licensed drivers. Parents may want to talk about this with them. If the two sides can agree to at least a six-month period of no passengers, that would be acceptable.
In addition, parents should warn their teens about becoming passengers themselves in the vehicle of a peer. Of course, exceptions can and should be made, such as when the trip is a short one, when there is no night driving and when the friend is not a newly licensed driver.
Also, experts say that it’s a bad idea to allow siblings as passengers in a teen’s vehicle. Siblings are actually more distracting than friends because the former tend to know the things that make one another laugh or become excited or angry. Anger and excitement obviously do not make for safe driving.
When motor vehicle crashes are caused by distracted teens, they can form the basis for a personal injury claim. California is an at-fault state, so there are no restrictions on who can pursue a third-party insurance claim. Victims may seek compensation for monetary damages like medical bills and lost wages as well as non-monetary damages like pain and suffering. They may want a lawyer to assist them, though, since auto insurance companies have their own lawyers and often aggressively deny claims.