Fatal Car Accidents Raise Questions about Oregon Teen Driving Laws

February 23, 2015

In the wake of three fatal car accidents that occurred last weekend in Portland, state lawmakers and regulators are now taking a closer look at Oregon teen driving laws to assess whether they may need to be stricter to more effectively prevent accidents and deaths.

Current Oregon Teen Driving Laws

In the wake of three fatal car accidents in Portland, some state regulators are pushing to strengthen the current Oregon teen driving laws.

In the wake of three fatal car accidents in Portland, some state regulators are pushing to strengthen the current Oregon teen driving laws.

The Oregon teen driving laws that are currently in place were initially passed in 1999 as part of the state’s enactment of a graduated driver’s license program for teen drivers. Just some of the provisions of these Oregon teen driving laws include that teen drivers:

  • Cannot have any passengers younger than 20 years old riding with them (if these people aren’t their immediate family members) for the first six months after receiving their driver’s licenses
  • Can taxi around no more than 3 other passengers younger than 20 during second six-month period after obtaining their driver’s licenses

While these statutes were responsible for a nearly 30 percent reduction in teen driver-related traffic accidents in Oregon from 1999 through about 2006:

  • Continued progress in reducing teen driver-related traffic accidents has “flattened out,” according to ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) Administrator Troy Costales.
  • In more recent years (like from 2009 and on), the incidence of fatal teen traffic accidents in Oregon has slowly started climbing again.

These two points have led some to question whether another step needs to be taken in changing Oregon teen driving laws to reinvigorate their effectiveness.

Proposed Changes to Oregon Teen Driving Laws

One of the primary changes proposed for the current Oregon teen driving laws is to place stricter limitations on when teen motorists who are younger than 18 can have other teens as passengers riding in vehicles with them.

In fact, as a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports, the risk that a teen driver will die in a traffic accident increases by about 44 percent when even just one other teen passenger is riding in the vehicle with him or her. This risk increases by four times when three or more other teen passengers are riding with teenage drivers.

Opponents to such changes to Oregon teen driving laws, however, have noted that changing these statutes to place more restrictions on teen drivers will likely end up presenting a lot more hardships to those who live in the vast rural spaces in the state, as well as a there is a lack of public transportation options outside of more urban areas.

Whether any big moves to alter the existing Oregon teen driving laws are made this year remains to be seen, and we’ll continue reporting the latest news on this issue here.

Portland Car Accident Lawyers at the Savage Law Firm

Have you been hurt in a car accident? Or have you lost a loved one in a fatal car accident? If so, you can rely on the Portland car accident attorneys at the Savage Law Firm for experienced help and aggressive legal advocacy. For more than three decades, our lawyers have been devoted to providing each of our clients with personal attention, respect and the highest quality legal services, and they are ready to start helping you now.

To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page. We represent clients in communities in both Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.

Categories: Blog, Car Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Teen Driver Accidents