Young Driver Liability

You’ll Be Surprised What Accident Statistics Suggest about Your Child’s Legal Liability on the Road

With the holidays around the corner, it is expected that merriment and “a Festivus for the rest of us” will ensue. That being said, it is more important than ever that drivers exercise diligence and care when they operate motor vehicles.

In the 2011 Queensland Fatal Road Crashes Report done by the Queensland Government, there were a total of 269 fatal accidents that occurred in 227 crashes involving 394 vehicles. The statistics on these incidents suggest a few legal aspects that road users should take into consideration when driving.

Young Adult Drivers and the Law
Young adult drivers aged 17 to 24 years of age represented 18.2% of all the fatalities in Queensland road accidents in 2011. Sadly, young people being subject to accidents continue to occur despite the graduated licensing system that was introduced in Queensland on July 2007. New laws have been implemented since 2007 such as lowering the minimum learner age to 16 years and extending the learner licence period, restricting mobile phone use and implementing peer passenger restrictions.

Drivers vs. Passengers
At an initial glance, the statistics concerning young driver fatalities in Queensland may be predictable. We often assume that a young driver’s lack of experience is accredited to causing an motor vehicle accident, especially as the driver of the vehicle.

Young Adult Road User

adult-road-user

young-adult-road-fatalities by road user type and age group

However, the statistics do not confirm who caused the accident; it only emphasizes who was involved.

A driver has a duty of care to obey the rules of the road and operate their vehicle reasonably (e.g. driving at a safe speed, maintaining control, being aware of traffic signs and signals, using headlights, etc.)

While the existence of a duty of care in most cases is typically accepted without much argument, issues can still arise on which driver breached the duty of care.

 

Seatbelts

The majority of young drivers wear their seatbelt. However, for the small number that failed, it is important to note that an unrestrained occupant not only increases the risk of a fatal injury, but depending on what a judge finds to be just and equitable, they may also be contributory negligent in their injuries for failing to wear their seatbelt and thus, have their damages reduced.

seatbelts

failure of wear seatbelts during accidents

 

Time and Day

The statistics show that the majority of accidents seem to occur during “party” hours closer to the weekend. It is important that young drivers take into consideration the severity of drink driving, as well as the necessity of arranging a safe trip home and not relying on friends who may be incapable of driving.

time-day

young adult road user fatalities by day of the week

 

Conclusion

These statistics suggest that young drivers are more at risk of opening themselves up to legal liability on the road simply because of their age. It may be a disconcerting matter for parents to balance the necessity of motor vehicle usage with the maturity and responsibility of their children. That being said, the best method for dealing with such a situation is prevention and the more time that a parent dedicates to building their children up to responsibly handle the operation of a motor vehicle, the better prepared their children will be in avoiding a potentially tragic accident and/or adversely affecting their insurance if they are involved in a collision.