While fewer than seven percent of South Carolina drivers are teenagers, they cause significantly more than seven percent of the state's auto accidents. This disproportionate statistic is no surprise. Beginners learning any new skill are likely to make errors. However, when that new skill is driving, a novice's mistakes can be serious and costly.
Our experienced Myrtle Beach car accident lawyers understand that you want to keep your child, their friends, and other motorists safe. Even when you aren't behind the wheel, you can influence your teen driver's behavior, help prevent Myrtle Beach car accidents and injuries, and teach your child what to do if a car crash occurs.
Reasons for Teenage Drivers' Accidents
The South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI) reports more than 6,000 motor vehicle accidents per year involving teenage drivers. Here are some common reasons for Myrtle Beach car accidents involving teen drivers.
Using a cellphone, adjusting a radio, checking a GPS device, applying makeup, and other similar activities can take a teen driver's attention away from the road and lead to a car accident.
Lack of Driving Experience
A teen is most likely to cause a car accident during the first year of driving, especially when roads are bad or the weather is inclement.
Friends in the Car
Other teenagers in the car increase the danger of a car accident due to talking, blocking sightlines, and sometimes encouraging speeding or other unsafe practices. South Carolina drivers under 17 with conditional licenses may have no more than two underage passengers in the car unless they're on the way to school or accompanied by a fully licensed driver.
Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents at night. A conditionally licensed South Carolina driver must have a fully licensed driver in the car after dark.
Drunk Driving Accidents
Experimentation with alcohol and drugs begins in the teenage years for many young people and is often a factor in teen crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 31% of fatal crashes caused by teens involve the illegal consumption of alcohol.
Preventing Teen Accidents
In an attempt to reduce accidents among young drivers, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) has developed a graduated license program with special driving restrictions for those aged 15 to 17.
Parents can encourage compliance with South Carolina law and take additional steps outlined below.
Set a Good Example
Teenagers often model what you do more than they listen to what you say. While talking to your teen driver about safe driving practices is essential, it may be even more important to model those practices when you drive. For example, your child may follow your lead if you don't use a cellphone while driving, don't drink and drive, and don't drive when you are too upset to do so safely.
Consider a Parent-Teen Driving Contract
While South Carolina law sets minimum expectations for teen drivers, you can create your own rules for your child. You may limit how far your child may travel from Myrtle Beach, the reasons your child may take the car, and set clear consequences for violating the law or your family's parent-teen driving contract. Additionally, you may include information about how costs will be handled if your teen causes a car accident.
Use an App to Track Your Teen Driver
If you are concerned about your teen driver's speed or location, an app can provide an easy way for you to monitor your child's driving behavior and help prevent a car accident.
Teen Driver Car Insurance
Car insurance companies use a formula to calculate costs based on zip code and age. Unfortunately, South Carolina and Horry County, more specifically, have some of the highest prices for teen drivers. There are many reasons for this, including, but not limited to:
- The high number of tourists who visit Myrtle Beach and Horry County annually
- Our location within a hurricane zone
- South Carolina's high rate of underinsured and uninsured drivers
To keep costs down, you can:
- Search multiple companies for the best deal
- Have your teen take a Driver's Education course
- Encourage your teen to get good grades in school
While insurance may be expensive, protecting your family's finances is essential if your teen driver causes a Myrtle Beach car accident.
Who Is Liable for Damages in a Myrtle Beach Car Accident?
If a minor is driving a car and is at fault in a car accident, the South Carolina Family Purpose Doctrine states that the head of the family who owns and maintains the car for the everyday use of their family is responsible for the negligence of a family member when they drive the car.
It's essential to remember that not every car accident involving a teen driver is caused by the teen driver. Sometimes, the other driver is at fault, and in those car accident cases, your child may be able to recover damages with the help of a Myrtle Beach car accident lawyer.
Teach Your Child What to Do After a Myrtle Beach Car Accident
Car accidents can be frightening for new drivers. They are suddenly in scary adult situations that are new to them. However, they don't have to handle the aftermath of a car accident alone. Instead, they can have their parent and a Myrtle Beach car accident lawyer guide them every step of the way.
If your child calls you from the car accident scene, encourage your child to take the following steps.
1. Call the Police
Your child may be worried about getting in trouble. Reassure your child that the police will come to investigate the car accident, make sure everyone gets medical treatment, and help all of the car accident victims. Your child should call you and the police even before contacting a car accident attorney.
2. Gather Evidence
Evidence is critical to most car accident claims. If your child is physically able to take action, your child will want to take photos of the car accident scene, get the names and addresses of auto accident witnesses, get the name, address, and phone number of the other drives and the name of the other driver's insurance company. Together, this evidence will help identify the at fault party and protect your child's right to recover compensation in a car accident case.
3. Contact the Insurance Company
Your child should notify your insurance company of the accident. However, they shouldn't give insurance adjusters any details other than the date and location of the crash and the name of their Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer.
4. Call an Experienced Myrtle Beach Car Accident Lawyer
An experienced car accident attorney can take all the guesswork out of what your child should do after a Myrtle Beach car accident. We will guide your child from the first phone call through the car accident claim and a personal injury lawsuit if a lawsuit is necessary.
A car accident attorney can determine who was liable for the accident and, if appropriate, fight for your child's fair compensation of past and future medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, physical pain, and emotional suffering.
If your child is intimidated about calling the police, the insurance company, or a Myrtle Beach car accident attorney, you can make the calls on your child's behalf and guide them every step of the way.