Teen-Specific Driving Restrictions in Virginia

by admin on May 6, 2013

Virginia Driving Restriction
Parents of teenage drivers in Virginia can breathe a little easier. The state has implemented three teen-specific restrictions that will go a long way toward keeping new drivers safe for their first few years behind the wheel. These restrictions, as outlined by the Department of Motor Vehicles, are as follows:

CURFEW RESTRICTIONS

If you’re a Virginia driver under the age of 18, you are prohibited from driving from midnight to 4:00 A.M. This applies to teens with a driver’s license as well as those with their learner’s permit. However, there are certain circumstances where driving during those hours is permissible:

• In case of an emergency
• When travelling to and from work- or a school-sponsored event
• When accompanied by a parent or another adult
• If working as volunteer firefighter or rescue squad personnel

Limiting the hours a teen can drive has proven to dramatically reduce the amount of teen-related automobile accidents.

PASSENGER RESTRICTIONS

Another driving restriction placed upon teens is the number of passengers you can have in your car at any given time. Virginia law states that if you are under 18, you may have only one passenger in your car for the entire first year that you have your license. Once you have held your license for a year, you still can only carry up to three passengers until you turn 18.
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of distraction that passengers can provide, but studies have shown that, much like the curfew restriction, limiting distractions cuts down on accidents—particularly for teen drivers. It should be noted, though, that the passenger restrictions do not apply to family members.

CELL PHONE RESTRICTIONS

Not surprisingly, the third teen driver restriction is in regard to cell phones. In Virginia, if you’re under 18, you may not use a cell phone or any other “wireless telecommunications device” when behind the wheel, whether the device is hand held or not. In fact, there are only two circumstances where use of a cell phone is permissible:

• In the event of a driver emergency
• When the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped

Violations of the cell phone, passenger, or curfew restrictions can result in an immediate suspension of your license.

WHY THEY EXIST

The general idea behind these restrictions is to have new drivers spend time getting comfortable behind the wheel during optimal conditions, before putting them in less-than-optimal situations. For example, night driving introduces problems of limited visibility, and an increase in “tired driving,” while the passenger and cell phone restrictions help keep driver attention focused on the road ahead.

Like most laws, these restrictions have been put into place purely in the interest of public safety. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that teen drivers have a significantly higher accident rate than older, more experienced drivers.

STATISTICS ABOUT TEEN DRIVERS

The Centers for Disease Control has a list of teen driving statistics that shed some light on the importance of this issue:

• In 2010, about 2,700 teens in the United States aged 16 – 19 were killed, and almost 282,000 were treated and released from emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes.
• Young people ages 15 – 24 represent only 14% of the U.S. population. However, they account for 30% ($19 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28% ($7 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among females.
• The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
• In 2010, half of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight, and 55% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Fortunately, there’s no end to the amount of precaution you can take with your teen driver. A defensive driving course in Virginia, for example, is a great place to learn specific tips for minimizing distractions. Even something as simple as going out and practicing with your teenager—in good driving conditions and bad—can help keep everyone a little safer on the road.


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