Start Smart is aimed at helping newly licensed- or soon to be licensed- teenage drivers (15-19) become more aware of the responsibilities that accompany the privilege of being a licensed California driver. The newly licensed teenage driver and their parents/guardians are invited to attend and participate in a free 2 hour long Start Smart class usually hosted at a local California Highway Patrol (CHP) office. CHP officers speak directly to the newly licensed driver and their parents/guardians through candid conversations, discussing topics such as collision avoidance techniques along with collision causing elements such as excessive speed, DUI, and distracted driving. Start Smart makes teens and parents aware of the responsibilities they face and teaches what precautions to take to stay safe; such as the importance of seat belt unsafe, passengers in the vehicle and what to do when involved in a collision.
Traffic Collisions are the leading cause of death amongst teens 16-19 years old.
A teen driver was determined to be at fault in approximately 66 percent of those collisions, which resulted in more than 140 people killed.
Motor vehicle collisions are the No. 1 killer of teens, and their risk of collision is four times that of an experienced driver. The risk is highest when teens are in the first 12 to 24 months of licensure.California’s Graduated Driver's License (GDL) program consists of the following elements:
Teens must be 15 years and six months to obtain a permit
Teens must complete 50 hours of driving – 10 of which must be at night – over the next six months before obtaining an intermediate, or restricted, license at age 16
Teens are not permitted to drive unsupervised between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. when their risk of collision is highest
Teens with a restricted license cannot carry any passengers under the age of 20, unless accompanied by a licensed driver age 25 or older.
A basic, or full, license can be obtained and restrictions lifted at age 17
Most teen collisions involve some form of distraction. While cell phone use clearly poses a danger to all motorists, passengers are particularly distracting to young drivers. A teen driver is twice as likely to be killed in a collision while carrying just one passenger, regardless of whether the passenger is a friend or a sibling. Carrying two passengers increases the risk of collision by 158 percent, and three passengers increases risk by 207 percent.
Forty percent of all teen driver fatal collisions occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. While California does not allow teens on the roadways unsupervised between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., parents are encouraged to set an earlier time for teens to be off the roads.