A 16 year-old driving north in the southbound lanes of Mountain View Corridor, crashed into a fully-loaded minivan in the evening hours of April 23, 2016. According to KSL News, the 16-year-old driver was driving with a friend – another 16 year-old – at the time the crash occurred. According to Herriman police, the driver told them that he was traveling at 55 miles per hour at the time his car collided violently with the minivan. While drunk driving was ruled out, police are investigating whether the driver was distracted or just not paying attention.
The unlucky victims of this crash were treated at a local hospital and are said not to have life-threatening injuries. Thankfully, all were wearing their seat belts, or this crash may have had a different ending.
Legally speaking, I first question whether a 16 year-old driver can legally have another 16 year-old in the car who is not a family member. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, a new driver may not drive with a passenger in the car until at least six months after they receive their license, unless the passenger is an immediate family member. The obvious reason for this rule is to prevent unneeded distraction while a young driver learns how to focus on the roads they’re driving down.
Victims of car crashes caused by drivers less than 18 years old also need to know that owners of cars driven by these under-age drivers are “jointly and severally” responsible for damages from that crash. See: http://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53/Chapter3/53-3-S212.html. In other words, the car owner also bears financial responsibility for property damage as well as personal injuries.
Finally, it is common for under-aged drivers living with their parents to be insured by the parent’s insurance company. (This helps explain why insurance rates for families with teen drivers are so high!) The good news is that parents tend to have higher insurance limits than young adults who don’t live at home.