Learning to drive is a major milestone for most Tennessee teens, and it is especially important in Murfreesboro, which has a relatively small public transit system. Teens dream of being able to visit their friends on-demand or drive themselves to school: it’s one of the first steps to independence and helps them feel that they’re truly ready for adulthood.
Tennessee has a robust learner’s permit program, with three tiers: learner permit, intermediate restricted license, and intermediate unrestricted license. Leaner permits can only be issued with a parent’s permission and with proof that they are attending school; a teen can only move up to an intermediate restricted license after 50 hours on the road with a parent or driver instructor, including 10 hours of night driving. This ensures that when your teen finally passes that all-important road test, they are fully prepared to operate a motor vehicle on their own.
Unfortunately, though, teens don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to driving, even with careful instruction; they may not fully understand the consequences of driving until they get into a serious accident. Today, we’ll discuss what happens if your child gets into an accident, as well as provide helpful tips on how to prevent these accidents altogether.
They Might Have Reckless Driving Fines
Teens who get into accidents, just like adults, might be issued tickets and fines if they are at fault in the accident. This can include reckless driving, speeding, or disobeying traffic signs. Police officers are often stern with teen drivers in hopes of teaching them a lesson, so a minor infraction, one that would get an adult driver a warning, might get a teenager a ticket.
Your Insurance Rate May Go Up
Insurance can get complicated when you have young drivers with a permit using your vehicle. Your car insurance follows the car rather than the driver, but the primary policyholder is always responsible for damages, no matter who is behind the wheel. This means that if there is ever a claim on your policy, your insurance may go up – especially if it is a driver with a learner permit who was behind the wheel.
This claim will also follow the child, who may face higher insurance premiums in the future; even though they are a minor, they are still legally responsible if they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, and it will count on their driving record.
Your Child Might Have to Attend Further Education
Because the child’s accident will be recorded on their driving history, they may not just face higher insurance costs, but also a longer wait to get their full, unrestricted license. The Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles is naturally concerned whenever a learning driver gets into an accident and will want to ensure they are properly prepared for the rigors of driving independently. As such, if your child is in a reported accident, they may face delays in getting their full license, including additional recorded hours and further education. They have to prove that they have completed these requirements before they can sit for their test.
You May Be Sued
Tennessee has parental liability laws: this means that if your teenager causes harm to another person, whether in a car accident or otherwise, you may be held liable for their actions. If another person is injured in a car accident while your child is behind the wheel, it’s very possible that not only will your teen be sued, but you will also have to pay damages to the injured party.
This is why, no matter how small the accident, you should contact a Murfreesboro car accident lawyer, who can advise you of your rights and negotiate with insurance companies. Even if you think your teen wasn’t at fault, the other party’s insurance may use their permit status against them, so you need a lawyer to advocate for you and your child, ensuring that they will not be unduly punished for an accident they didn’t cause.
How to Prevent Accidents for Tennessee Teen Drivers
Teaching teenagers how to drive can be incredibly nerve-wracking: we want them to be safe, but we also want them to make good decisions and understand the seriousness of their responsibility. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that you can help your teens be safe on the road.
Firstly, don’t discount the importance of professional driver’s education. Even though Tennessee does not require teenagers to go through driver’s ed, you should enroll them anyway because driver’s ed teachers have specially manufactured cars that allow the passenger limited control over the vehicle, including a secondary brake to prevent accidents. They’re also wholly familiar with the rules of the road and can explain every aspect of Tennessee driving law to your student driver.
Start your lesson plans in the driveway: show them how to use the brake and e-brake; how to operate the blinkers, lights, and windshield wipers; and how to shift between drive, park, neutral, and reverse. Then, begin driving with them in more secluded areas; don’t hesitate to let them try different road conditions once they feel comfortable, including rainy and low-vision days. Move at their pace and, most importantly, always model good driving when you’re behind the wheel, including driving at safe speeds and using your turn signal.
Giving your teen such incredible responsibility is frightening, but it helps set them up for a lifetime of success. Be aware of the legal and financial obligations you have as the parent of a teen driver so that you can plan for any catastrophes – and head them off at the pass.