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Posted on: March 22, 2022

Brand New 16-Year-Old Driver, Now What?

Teen driver at the steering wheel

Let’s start by understanding some of the laws associated with our rookie drivers. The first thing to remember is there are time restrictions on when your teenager can and can’t drive. Don’t worry, this restriction isn’t too bad, it starts at 12:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 a.m. The following are exceptions to this rule.

  • When someone, 21 or older, is sitting in the seat next to the driver
  • Driving within the restricted time frame is required as part of their employment
  • You teen is driving to or from a school related activity
  • Or during an emergency

The second thing to remember is the passenger limitations. A new driver may not drive a vehicle on any public road with any passenger who is not an immediate family member. This is to give your teen some time to experience driving without unnecessary distractions from their friends. The following are exceptions to this rule.

  • They can have passengers six months after the date their license was issued
  • There is a licensed driver, 21 or older, also in the vehicle
  • Or during an emergency

The third thing to remember is limitations on cell phone use while your teen is driving. Utah State Statute, 41-8-4, prohibits juveniles under the age of 18 from using their cell phone while driving. The following are exceptions to this rule.

  • If they need to report a safety hazard
  • If they need to report criminal activity
  • If they are talking to a parent
  • During an emergency

There are many people who have a hard time putting their cell phone down when they’re out and about. Just take a look around you the next time you’re stopped at a red light. Whether it’s checking a text message or scrolling through your social media, it really can wait. In 2020, there were 4,823 traffic accidents reported in Utah listing the primary cause as distracted driving, 18 of which resulted in a death.

Here are some tips for safe cell phone use while driving. If available, place the cell phone in a “driving mode”. This feature limits incoming texts and calls, which will reduce the temptation to grab the phone while driving. If the phone is not equipped with this feature, there are related apps that perform similar functions. 

You can also invest in a hands-free device or, if equipped, sync the cell phone to the in-car system. Lastly, remind your teen, if they do need to use their cell phone, they should safely pull to the side of the road before doing so.

(Reference Utah State Statutes: 41-8-1, 41-8-2, 41-8-3, and 41-8-4)

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