Georgia Governor Brian Kemp recently issued an executive order suspending the behind-the-wheel road test requirement for teens wishing to obtain their driver’s license. The order, which is in effect until the current public health state of emergency enacted by Governor Kemp ends, allows teen drivers to obtain their driver’s licenses as long as they meet all other requirements, including at least 40 hours of driving supervised by a parent, instructor, or another of-age adult. Governor Kemp enacted the order in response to the difficulties of conducting road tests while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
The road test suspension applies only to teens between the ages of 16 and 18 years old who have held learner’s permits for at least one year and one day and who have received no driving violations. Those who meet these qualifications and who provide an affidavit showing that they have completed the required 40 hours of supervised driving can upgrade to provisional licenses online through their Department of Driver Services portal. Drivers over the age of 17 who do not have a permit or license are required to take and pass a written knowledge exam and any individual under the age of 18 must obtain permission to complete a driver’s license application.
For many teens waiting to obtain driver’s licenses, of which there was a backup of about 30,000 waiting to take the road test due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is good news. Others, however, are concerned about what this could mean for road safety.
Teen Driver Accident Statistics
- Inexperience is one of the leading factors in motor vehicle accidents across the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle collisions are the number one leading cause of teen deaths in the U.S. Studies have shown that teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are almost three times more likely to be involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents than people over the age of 19.
The CDC reports that in 2017 (the latest year for which data is available):
- 2,364 Americans between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents
- Approximately 300,000 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 sustained traffic-related injuries that required emergency room treatment
- The fatality rate of males between the ages of 16 and 19 was more than two times greater than the fatality rate for females in the same age group
Perhaps most notably, the CDC found that the crash rate for teens is highest in the first few months after they receive their driver’s licenses. Data revealed that the accident rate per mile for 16-year-old was 1.5 times greater than it was for individuals aged 18 and 19.
Staying Safe on Georgia’s Roads
Teenagers, parents, and other motorists should always practice and encourage safe driving behaviors. The Georgia Department of Driver Services reminds parents to not simply sign off on their teens’ driving hours but to actually ensure that their children have completed all required 40 hours, including at least 6 practice hours at night. All practice hours should be completed under the supervision of a qualified adult.
Additionally, the CDC has reported that crash rates for teen drivers with teen passengers is higher than for those who do not have friends and other fellow teens in the car. According to the CDC, the risk of a crash increases with the number of teen passengers in the vehicle. By law, those with provisional licenses in the state of Georgia may not drive with any passengers other than their family members for the first 6 months, and they may not drive with more than one passenger who is under the age of 21 (except family members) in the second six months of receiving their provisional license. After having a provisional license for 12 months (one year), teenage drivers may not drive with more than two passengers (except family members) under the age of 21. Teens driving with a provisional license are also prohibited from driving between the hours of 12:00 a.m. (midnight) and 5 a.m.
It is extremely important that teenage drivers follow all applicable laws and that their parents do not allow them to drive with multiple teenage passengers who are not family members or drive during prohibited hours.
Injured in a Crash? We Can Help.
If you, your teen, or another loved one was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Canton or any of the surrounding areas, Hasty Pope Davies, LLP is here to help. Our car accident attorneys understand the various applicable laws and can help you navigate the legal process. Our goal is to help those injured by the negligence of others recover the full and fair compensation they are owed.