As the beginning of the school year nears, many college students will be taking a car with them to have on campus. It can be a great convenience to students who work part-time off-campus as well as to those who simply want the freedom to explore what the surrounding area has to offer.
Floridians who live near one of our many colleges and universities know that the fall semester can bring increased traffic congestion as well as more accidents. Many accidents involving college-age drivers result from drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving.
College students away from home for the first time don't always deal well with their new freedom. Even though Florida's legal drinking age is 21, alcohol is not hard to find on and around campus. The impact of alcohol on accidents involving young people is evident in statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA found that nearly a quarter of drivers 20 years old and younger who were involved in fatal accidents had a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08 percent. Nearly one-third of those between 21 and 24 in fatal accidents had a minimum BAC of 0.08.
Of course, as we've discussed here before, young people are among those most likely to talk on the phone, text or otherwise be distracted while driving. Over a quarter of fatal distracted driving accidents involve drivers who are in their 20s.
Drowsy driving can also contribute to car accidents involving college-age drivers. Young people who no longer have their parents around to monitor their activities often find themselves sleep-deprived from some trying to find time for studying, partying and/or working. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drivers between 18 and 29 have a particularly high likelihood of getting behind the wheel while fatigued.
Too often, the people who pay the price for drunk, distracted or drowsy driving are not just the drivers themselves, but passengers, pedestrians or other motorists. If you have been harmed or lost a loved one in an accident where another driver was to blame, you may be able to take civil action independently of any criminal charges filed against the driver.
If a driver under 21 was driving under the influence of alcohol, you may also be able to hold the establishment or people who provided the alcohol accountable as well. It's wise to seek legal guidance to determine your options.
Source: Brain Injury Society, "Back to College Means Back to Accidents," Jacob Masters, accessed Aug. 11, 2015