We started this blog to discuss issues related to auto accident injuries in Connecticut, and a major concern for everyone in our state should be driver education. Specifically, Connecticut has some good laws on the books to protect teenage drivers, their passengers and other motorists, but statistics show that more needs to be done.

Between 2008 and 2011, 61 drivers and passengers aged 16 to 19 died in auto accidents in Connecticut, and roughly 6,000 passengers in that age group suffered injuries. Those numbers point to a badly unfulfilled need in our communities: passenger education.

According to Connecticut law, in the first year of having a license, drivers who are 16 and 17 years old are not allowed to have non-relative passengers. However, we all know that many kids violate this law. What needs to happen is more guidance from parents, police, schools, doctors and other organizations, emphasizing that teen passengers are not simply “along for the ride.”

There is plenty of evidence showing that teen drivers are often impulsive and easily distracted. Add to the equation all of the technological devices teens use, along with distracting passengers in a vehicle, and too often the result is an injurious auto accident.

Here are some steps parents can take to protect their children’s safety:

  • Always know who your child is riding with. Is the driver experienced? Did he or she go through the state’s graduated licensing process, or did he or she get a driver’s license after becoming a legal adult?
  • Know that taking a driver’s education course is not the end of a teen driver’s education. Parental guidance in the vehicle in a variety of driving conditions can help in addition to any official education.
  • And it is important for parents to monitor their kids’ driving activities. Joy-riding is often an injurious and deadly activity for inexperienced and easily distracted young people.

More information for parents and concerned community members can be found in the source article we’ve linked to below. And Connecticut residents can check back here each week for topics related to auto safety and the law.

Source: The Courant, “State Must Focus On Teen Passenger Safety, Too,” Brendan T. Campbell, Garry Lapidus and Bill Seymour, Oct. 18, 2013