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What Every Parent Should Know: Facts, Risks and Laws of Teen Driving

June 12, 2019

Posted in Parenting,Injury Prevention

With school starting across the state, many teens will be driving themselves to school and sports practice for the first time. Will your teen be ready? It’s essential for parents and teens to know and understand the risks and the laws of being on the road.


  • Fact: Arkansas teens have rates of motor vehicle death that are nearly twice as high as the US overall.
  • Risk: Teens are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.
  • Arkansas Law: A teen may obtain a learner’s license at ages 14- 15, an intermediate license at ages 16-17, and a full license at age 18.


  • Fact: States with primary safety belt laws have higher belt use rates and lower fatality rates.
  • Risk: In 2008, more than half of the teens killed in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing their seat belt.
  • Arkansas Law: The primary seat belt law states that any driver and front-seat passenger will receive a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. All passengers must wear a seat belt when riding with a teen driver with a learner’s or intermediate license.


  • Fact: The risk of having a crash is four times higher when cell phones are in use.
  • Risk: Using a phone while driving is a severe risk for teen drivers, forcing them to take their eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel.
  • Arkansas Law: Teen drivers ages 14-17 may not use cell phones while driving except for emergency purposes. Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers.


  • Fact: 64% of Arkansas fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2009 occurred between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Risk: Four out of every ten crash deaths occur at night.
  • Arkansas Law: Teen drivers with an intermediate license may not drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed adult age 21 or older. The only exception is driving to or from a school activity, church-related activity, or job.


  • Fact: Just one passenger increases the risk of a crash by 40%.
  • Risk: Teen drivers with two or more teen passengers increase the chance of a fatal crash by five times.
  • Arkansas Law: Teen drivers with an intermediate license are prohibited from having more than one unrelated minor passenger unless accompanied by a licensed adult age 21 or older.


  • Fact: Nearly 25% of car crashes resulting in teen deaths also involved alcohol.
  • Risk: Each year, thousands of teens are killed or injured in crashes as a result of underage drinking.
  • Arkansas Law: Teen drivers with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) between .02 and .07 will receive a citation for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Teen drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher will receive a ticket for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The financial penalties for both violations are steep. It is also illegal for adults to provide alcohol to minors or allow minors to drink alcohol on their property.

To keep kids and other drivers safe, consider asking your young driver to sign a parent-teen agreement to establish guidelines and expectations. 

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