Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety (AHAS) believes that California needs to tighten up its highway safety laws, especially in regard to teen driving. AHAS is an organization that studies driving and highway laws from across the country, looking for potential gaps in regulations that could save lives if filled.
How Well Does California Protect Young Drivers?
Based on AHAS’s findings, California ranked well among all states for overall highway safety laws and their enforcement. Yet the group was dissatisfied with how the state places driving restrictions on young drivers under the age of 20. California currently does not allow young drivers to allow young passengers in their vehicles for the first year after getting their license. It also uses an 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM driving curfew during this same first-year time period.
However, AHAS wants the curfew to be extended for an hour, starting it at 10:00 PM instead. AHAS also thinks banning teen passengers until the driver was 18 would help reduce the high number of teenage fatalities reported in car accidents each year. Approximately 400 teenagers in California lose their lives each year due to preventable car accidents, many of which are suspected to involve a distracted teenage driver who was engaging with their friends in the car.
Low Marks for Drunk & Distracted Driving
AHAS was also critical of California’s drunk driving laws and texting while driving laws. The group is critical of the state’s arguably lenient policy that does not require all driving under the influence (DUI) convicts to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle. An IID will not allow the vehicle to start if it detects the driver is drunk, which is measured by a breathalyzer-like mouthpiece on the device.
Lastly, California was described as “inadequate” when it comes to controlling and punishing texting and driving behaviors among drivers of all age groups. For example, being tickets for distracted driving in the state results only in a $20 fine the first time, up to $50 for subsequent offenses. It is not considered a misdemeanor and it places no points on a driver’s record.
Would Stricter Highway Laws Help in California?
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), there were 3,623 traffic fatalities in California in 2016. This amount has been somewhat consistent year over year, meaning about 3,500 people lose their lives in car crashes each year in the state. From another perspective, about 10 Californians a day die in preventable car accidents, which does not even mention the many, many more who are severely injured.
With this in mind, AHAS may very well be onto something hugely important. By considering new legislation to further deter distracted, drunk, and reckless teen driving, the number of annual traffic fatalities may continue to drop further.
If you’re injured or lose a loved one in a car accident in Northern California, call (888) 387-4053 and connect with Habbas & Associates to learn how to file a claim in pursuit of fair and maximized compensation. We have offices in San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Rocklin, and Modesto.