Teenage driving accidents in Hawaii harm young people, other victims and the economy. In fact, unintentional injury, including car accidents, is the leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds in Hawaii.
There are several important issues when it comes to teenage car accidents in Hawaii:
- Risk factors that elevate the risk of car accidents for teenagers
- How legal fault is determined when a crash involves a teen
- License penalties for teens involved in a crash
- How insurance and legal liability works when a teenager is at fault
- When your teen is not at fault
Our Honolulu car accident attorneys explain teenage driving accidents in Hawaii.
Is Teenage Driving a Problem in Hawaii?
Teen drivers are three times more likely to be in a car accident than older drivers. The youngest drivers are the most at risk, with a crash rate per mile driven 1.5 times higher for 16 year olds than for 18 and 19 year olds.
Factors that Increase Risk for Teenage Drivers
- Inexperience in navigating hazards and making decisions while driving
- Speeding and driving too fast for conditions
- Alcohol and drug use
- Distracted driving including texting, screens and interacting with others
- Following too closely, poorly gauging following distance
- Failing to adjust to changing road conditions
- Being in a hurry, rushing
- Poor understanding of vehicle maintenance and common malfunctions
- Ineffective steering and handling skills, especially when a hazard arises
- Manipulating buttons in the vehicle while driving
- Not being familiar with lanes or driving route
- Changing lanes without effectively looking for oncoming traffic
- Driving too tentatively
Teenagers may simply lack experience and driving skills. In addition, they may execute poor judgment which leads to creating a hazard or poorly navigating an existing hazard.
Legal Fault When a Crash Involves a Teen
Teens are evaluated under the same standards that apply to adult drivers. If an adult would be responsible for the crash under the same circumstances, a teen is responsible. Juveniles may receive traffic tickets.
Operating a motor vehicle is an adult activity. When not done with reasonable care, it can be dangerous. For this reason, teenagers accept adult responsibility and the same legal standards of negligence that apply to anyone operating a vehicle.
Licensing and Penalties for Teens Involved in a Crash
When a teen is at fault in a motor vehicle crash, there may be penalties on their provisional license.
- First adjudication: Provisional license suspended or revoked for six months, and other penalties, no reissue until the person is 18 years old or it has been six months since the suspension, whichever comes first.
- Second or subsequent adjudication: Provisional license is revoked for one year, no reissue until the person is 18 years old or it has been one year since the revocation, whichever is later.
See H.R.S. § 286-102.6(e). These penalties apply for any traffic offense, not just when a teen is at fault for a crash.
Teenagers with a full driver’s license – 17, 18 and 19 years old
A teenager may have a full license as early as 17-years-old after having a provisional license for six months. A teenager with a full license is subject to the same standards and penalties that apply to all fully licensed drivers, with an additional “zero tolerance” for driving with any amount of alcohol in their system.
Insurance and Legal Liability When a Teen is Involved in a Crash
There are two ways that parents may be liable for the actions of their teens on the roads. The first is through car insurance, and the second is by signing responsibility for the teen when they receive their permit or license.
Liability through insurance
Hawaii law says that every owner of a vehicle operated on a public road shall have car insurance and shall maintain it for the entire motor vehicle registration period. No person may operate a motor vehicle on a public road unless the vehicle is insured.
Most car insurers require everyone in the household to be on the policy, although it’s possible for the teenager to have a separate policy. Hawaii is a no-fault state, so PIP claims should go through everyone’s own insurance. But if your teen is driving your vehicle, it’s your insurance that is going to pay injury liability and property damage. (See H.R.S. § 431:10c-104).
Your insurance applies to your vehicle when you loan it to others – so even if your teen is grown, no longer living in your household, and has their own insurance, loaning the vehicle to them still creates liability for their actions. If your adult teenager is still a part of your household, your insurance will likely require them to be named on your policy.
Liability created by law
The other reason that parents are responsible for their teenage drivers is because they sign for liability when the teenager gets their license. Hawaii Revised Statutes § 286-112 says that an application for a permit, provisional license or driver’s license for a person under 18 must be signed for by the responsible adult. That’s both parents when there’s joint custody, a sole custodial parent or a guardian. Any negligence or misconduct of the minor is imputed to the person who signed for them.
Many parents don’t remember signing for their child, but they can be liable if the teen is responsible for an accident. Once you’ve signed, you can cancel your signature, revoking the teen’s license (H.R.S. § 286-113), but you won’t escape liability if a crash has already occurred.
Car Accident Teenager Not at Fault
Teenagers shouldn’t be presumed to be at fault for an accident. If a teen is a victim of a car accident, they may have a right to claim compensation. Serious bodily injury, loss of a body part, serious loss of bodily function, disfigurement and death may all be grounds for compensation. Teen victims often suffer life-changing injuries. They shouldn’t suffer without legal representation.