Summer break is just a few weeks away, and teenagers with provisional Class A, B, or C driver licenses will hit the streets to enjoy the freedom of summertime.
Unfortunately, this can pose a threat to maintaining safe Texas roadways for all drivers, and to avoid the risk of personal injury. According to a 2012 study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.” The CDC goes on to cite another comprehensive study, concluding, “…per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.”
Other national studies highlight teens’ higher rate of accidents from distracted driving than the average adult driver. Beyond distracted driving, the biggest threat to teen highway safety is actually driving between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
These sobering statistics may have helped form the Texas Department of Public Safety requirements. These are the two main limitations on under-18 drivers. Provisional license holders must limit to a single passenger anyone riding with them who is under-21. The rules also strictly restrict under-18 driving between midnight and 5 a.m.
Perhaps if one teen driver in particular, Callie Renee Inman, 18, had adhered more closely to the limits placed on drivers of all ages, retired Houston Police Department officer Dana Tweedie may still be alive. Instead, Inman has been released on $150,000 bail following manslaughter charges and now faces an additional charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Officer Tweedie’s wife, Linda, was also injured following Inman’s alleged intoxicated driving spree.
Although Officer Tweedie will never be able to assert his rights in court, his widow will have this opportunity. As an injury victim herself, she will be able to bring a personal injury claim against the 18-year-old defendant.
Unfortunately, Inman’s introduction into adulthood will include penalties from the legal system.
This case demonstrates why now is the time to discuss highway safety with our Houston teens. If you’re a parent of a young driver (or soon-to-be driver), make sure that you take a moment to remind them to be safe behind the wheel.