Getting a driver’s license is an important part in a teen’s life and a big step toward adulthood, but that step comes with a lot of responsibility. While teens may feel they are growing up and more independent, they often do not realize the duties that come with this new ability nor appreciate and grasp the risks and need for safety. Furthermore, with less experience on the roads, teens often do not have the same physical driving skills as experienced adult drivers do. This means their judgment and reaction times are often not as good as other drivers, which can mean a higher risk for motor vehicle accidents.
However, even though teens may have less experience and years of driving under their belt, they must be held to the same standard as all other drivers. Because they have been granted a license and the ability to drive, they also have a legal duty of care to be safe and not be a cause of injury to others on the road. Just like other drivers, when they fail in this regard and act negligently or recklessly, they can be held responsible under the law through traffic citations and/or personal injury lawsuits.
In a recent article by the Chicago Sun-Times, a teen driver was recently cited for a fatal car accident that killed a pedestrian in Arlington Heights. As a result of the 16-year-old hitting the woman, she died two days later. He was issued four traffic citations. The 57-year-old woman was walking her dog and crossing Grove Street near Kaspar Avenue in Arlington Heights, when the teen who was traveling westbound, struck her. Police cited the teen for reckless driving, speeding, driving with an obstructed windshield, and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. He will be appearing in traffic court his month.
Our attorneys encourage all parents and caregivers of young drivers to stress the importance of safe-driving. While it may be cool to obtain a license and have a new ability and freedom to drive yourself, this comes with responsibilities that should not be taken lightly. The Centers For Disease Control state that teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not recognize hazardous situations too. Speeding and reckless driving is not cool, but just endangers both the driver and others on the road. Not only does it not reflect positively on an individual, but when an accident occurs, this results in high financial costs for insurance and traffic citations. While insurance and tickets can be paid, and a driving record will in time be made better, you cannot undo taking the life of another person from poor driving choices. While the families of victims can hold reckless drivers responsible in a lawsuit and obtain compensatory and punitive damages, no amount of money can ever measure up to the loss of a beloved family member. Moments of looking cool for speeding or saving time while driving faster is not worth the damage it can do.