Driving at nighttime is a dangerous practice for newly-licensed teens. Visibility is poor and there is a higher likelihood of impaired or fatigued drivers. Also, late outings often are recreational and teens who usually follow the rules may become easily distracted or take risks.
Tim Schiefelbein received his driver’s license just two months before his fatal nighttime crash. Tim was driving home from work alone around 9 p.m. and sped over railroad tracks near his home. Unfortunately he misjudged how quickly he went over the tracks and his car became airborne. Tim’s vehicle bounced on the pavement and went airborne again before slamming into a telephone pole. Tim fought for four months for his life before succumbing to his injuries.
Given a teen driver’s already high crash risk, it is imperative they stay off the roads at times when they are most vulnerable. Most fatal teen nighttime crashes happen before midnight, with 40 percent of teen crashes occurring between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Because of this, the National Safety Council recommends teens be off the roads no later than 10 p.m. – earlier is better.
Nighttime driving restrictions are one element of nearly every state’s Graduated Driver Licensing programs. Still, parents can go beyond those laws and establish earlier times for their teens to be off the roads, whether they are driving or carpooling with friends.
- Sign a parent-teen driving agreement that establishes a nighttime driving restriction for their teen, and hold their teen accountable
- Talk with other parents so everyone knows the agreed-upon rules and enforces them
- Provide transportation alternatives so teens do not need to drive or ride with friends at nighttime
Driving at night should be a part of the learning process. The National Safety Council recommends parents give teens at least 10 hours of supervised driving at night so they are fully prepared for the unique challenges nighttime driving presents.