How to Talk to Teens About Driving Safely

By Stewart Law Offices
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Like most parents, you may have concerns about handing over the keys to the family car to your teenage child. However, you should be able to rest easier if you have a few honest conversations about your most significant concerns. By talking about the importance of obeying speed limits, driving defensively, and avoiding the distractions of cell phones and friends in the car, you can help your teen avoid the risk of a car accident.

In addition to talking with your teen, you can affect their driving behavior by always setting a good example when you are behind the wheel. For instance, if you text and drive, it is likely that your child will do the same. If you put down your phone and focus on the road, however, your child is likely to follow your lead and be much safer while driving.

Remember to play an active role as a coach and mentor as your teenager learns to drive. Answer the teen’s questions and remind him or her to be vigilant and drive defensively. Finally, it is critical that you know the rules of the road in your state so you can teach your child and enforce them.

To help you better understand the rules in North Carolina and South Carolina, we have put together some important information about teen driving that will help you to talk to your child about driving safety.

What Are the Rules for Teen Drivers?

South Carolina and North Carolina both use graduated driver’s licensing systems for issuing licenses to young drivers. These systems set restrictions and allow young drivers to gain experience behind the wheel before they become fully licensed. If your teen has not begun the process of getting a driver’s license yet, you should become familiar with how the process works in your state. Here are the rules:

Teen Driver Laws in South Carolina

In South Carolina, a prospective driver must be at least 15 years old and bring a parent or legal guardian when the teen applies for a beginner permit. A driver with a beginner permit must be accompanied at all times by a driver who has been licensed for at least one year and is at least 21 years of age.

A teen must hold a beginner permit for 180 days before the teen can apply for a conditional license. Conditional license holders in South Carolina can drive unaccompanied between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (8 p.m. during daylight savings time). The teen cannot have more than two passengers under age 21 unless they are transporting them to or from school.

When a teenager turns 16 in South Carolina, the teen can be eligible for a special restricted driver’s license that has the same requirements and limits as a conditional license. However, as a special restricted license holder, the teen can also be eligible for nighttime driving exemptions for specific school or employment opportunities.

For a teenager to obtain a full driver’s license in South Carolina, the teen must be at least age 17 and have held a beginner’s permit for at least 180 days. Teenagers over 18 years of age do not require parental consent.

Teen Driver Laws in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the licensing process begins with teens obtaining limited learner permits at age 15. The limited learner permit allows a teenager to drive when accompanied by a supervising, licensed driver.

A teen will need to hold a limited learner permit for 12 months before he or she can apply for a limited provisional license. A teen with a limited provisional license is allowed to drive unaccompanied between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Certain exceptions exist for school and volunteer efforts.

Licensing in North Carolina has levels. A teenager needs to avoid traffic tickets to avoid possible penalties that can impact the ability to graduate to the next level. Generally, a teenager must complete both the limited learner and limited provisional phases before the teen can be issued a full provisional license. A teen who does not complete these requirements will not be able to obtain a full license until he or she turns 18.

What Percentage of Teens Get into Car Accidents?

The following are some eye-opening statistics about teen driving in our country, specifically in South Carolina and North Carolina. As you discuss driving safety with your teen, you may want to bring up these statistics:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 1,300 teen drivers and passengers died in crashes in 2016. Among the passengers who died in those wrecks, 58 percent were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Additionally, nearly 20 percent of drivers in the same age group had been drinking alcohol when they were involved in a fatal accident.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that six teens between the ages of 16 and 19 die every day in the U.S. because of motor vehicle accident injuries. The CDC also states that the crash risk is unusually high with newly licensed teens, as 16- and 17-year-olds have fatal crash rates per mile driven that are almost twice as high as those of drivers in the 18-19 age group.
  • The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) reports that one teen driver is involved in a fatal or injury collision every 1.3 hours.

Dangers of Speeding

It is especially important to talk about the risks of speeding. Although speeding contributes to crashes among drivers of all ages, it is an extremely common factor in accidents involving teen drivers. In many cases, parents can discourage teenagers from speeding by warning them about the high cost of speeding tickets (which they will be responsible for paying).

You should remind your teen driver that speed limits are established based on the type of roadway, the visibility afforded to drivers and the amount of control the driver will have over the vehicle at a given speed. In other words, the speed limit is not arbitrary. It is established for a specific safety purpose.

Additionally, you should discuss how traveling at high speeds also reduces one’s response time. Not only are speeding motorists approaching objects at a quicker pace, but they also have less time to brake or avoid collisions.

On top of it, the nature of the injuries that motor vehicle occupants suffer in high-speed crashes can be severe. The impact becomes even more forceful, and people often suffer fatal injuries.

Common Types of Distracted Driving

Undoubtedly one of the more common concerns in recent years has been distracted driving among adults and teenagers alike. South Carolina bans all drivers from texting while driving, while North Carolina bans texting for all drivers and prohibits “novice drivers” (under age 18) from all cell phone use.

Texting or talking on cell phones is one of the most frequent types of distractions that people encounter on roads in South Carolina and North Carolina. However, many other types of actions can result in distracted driving crashes, including:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Changing the volume or station on the stereo system
  • Applying makeup, fixing hair or other grooming activities
  • Interacting with passengers.

This is why it is so important to talk with your teen about driving safety. This should not be a one-time conversation. It is something that you must reinforce on a daily basis.

Get Help from an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Serving South Carolina and North Carolina

Was your child severely injured in a car crash in South Carolina or North Carolina? If so, the experienced South Carolina car accident attorneys at Stewart Law Offices are here to take swift action on your behalf. Call or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.

Getting in any kind of accident can change your life. We understand the stress, the medical bills, the time missed from work, and the pain and suffering that comes with serious injuries. That is why our dedicated personal injury lawyers in the Carolinas are here to help you move forward.