Research has identified factors that increase the risk of teen drivers getting into auto accidents. These include nighttime driving and a high number of passengers. Because of this, many states (including Kentucky) have restricted teen driving privileges in order to address these risks. Auto accidents do not just affect teen drivers. Teenage passengers are also placed in danger, as are other road users. By restricting teens’ driving privileges, the state has enacted regulations which have been proven to reduce the risk of teen driving accidents, thus protecting all road users in Kentucky.
Kentucky’s Graduated Driver Licensing Program
All 50 states have introduced some form of a graduated driver licensing program for teenage drivers. Such programs slowly grant teens more driving privileges and are often contingent upon successful completion of each phase. Kentucky has implemented its own program.
According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, teen driving privileges occur in three phases:
- First, drivers who are at least 16 years old may obtain a permit. This allows the teen to drive when accompanied by a licensed driver aged 21 or older in the front seat. The teen is not allowed to drive between midnight and 6 a.m. (except in limited work-, school-, or church-related circumstances that are able to be documented). Additionally, permit holders are not allowed to drive with more than one passenger under the age of 20 who is not related to them.
- Second, a teen driver may apply for an intermediate license after successfully holding a permit for 180 days. If a permit holder commits a specified moving violation, the 180-day period restarts. Intermediate license holders are subject to the same hours and passenger restrictions as permit holders. They can, however, drive without a licensed driver accompanying them.
- Finally, a teen may apply for a full unrestricted license after successfully holding an intermediate license for 180 days. Again, a moving violation will restart the waiting period. Unrestricted license holders have no restrictions on hours of operation or the number of passengers. They are, however, subject to Kentucky’s Zero Alcohol Tolerance law (with the limit defined as a blood alcohol content of .02), as well as the driver point system and all other traffic laws applicable to adult drivers.
Real Kentucky Teens, Real Lives Lost
The Kentucky community of Nicholasville received a stark reminder of just how dangerous the road can be for inexperienced teen drivers. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that four teens were in a sport utility vehicle when the driver over-corrected to a road obstacle and tipped the car. This is easy for even an experienced driver to do in an SUV, which has a higher center of gravity than most passenger vehicles. All four teenagers were taken to a local hospital. One was later pronounced dead.
Our Louisville car accident attorneys have seen the devastating effects accidents can have upon teenage drivers and passengers, as well as victims in other vehicles. With parental supervision and accountability for safe driving habits, teens can prevent accidents and make the roads of Louisville safer for everyone.