Road risks posed by young employees whose jobs require them to drive

Last year the media reported a frightening instance of highway mayhem. According to the NY Daily News, a teenager was speeding over 100 mph on Cross Bay Boulevard in Queens when he lost control of his car and struck two on-coming vehicles. Ten people sustained personal injuries as a result of the calamitous motor vehicle accident. The Queens Chronicle reported that all 10 were taken to hospitals in Brooklyn where at least three were treated for critical injuries.

A few weeks ago, the NY Daily News reported that a 19-year-old driver who was speeding in excess of 90 mph lost control of his vehicle on the Long Island Expressway. The driver and his female passenger were killed upon striking a tree.

The New York Highway Safety Strategic Plan FFY 2014 contains the following observation about drivers under the age of 30: they are "consistently over-represented in crashes involving unsafe behavior." According to the Strategic Plan, these unsafe behaviors include, but are not limited to, alcohol and/or drug impairment, speeding and distracted driving.

Data analyzed in the Strategic Plan shows that drivers under 30 are more likely than those in other age groups to be involved in speeding accidents causing a motor vehicle accident. Stunningly, 52 percent of speeding accidents in New York involve drivers under the age of 30. Interestingly, drivers aged 21 to 29-rather than teenagers-are the most apt to be ticketed for speeding.

Minimizing highway safety risks posed by young employees

Untold numbers of people under the age of 30 are employed in jobs in the NYC area which entail driving as an essential part of their job. Young employees provide employers with vigor and stamina. Unfortunately, those under 30 may bring to the job risky driving behavior associated with youthful drivers.

The website of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lists several factors that can lead to highway accidents and collisions involving young employees whose job duties involve driving. Some of these factors are:

  • Driving inexperience
  • Difficulty in recognizing and then responding to traffic hazards
  • Immaturity; poor judgment and decision making skills
  • A tendency to overestimate their driving abilities
  • A desire to meet an employer's time expectations
  • Distracted driving caused by talking and texting on cell phones

NIOSH observes that employers can be legally responsible for the safety of vehicles operated on their behalf.

NIOSH suggests that, before hiring a youthful driver, an employer should:

  • Comply with federal and state labor laws that limit workplace driving for those under 18 years of age
  •  Insure that every employee whose job duties includes driving has a valid driver's license
  • Check the prospective young employee's motor vehicle record before hiring
  • Evaluate the young person's driving abilities

Once hired, an employer should continue to evaluate and provide feedback to the young employee on his or her driving skills. Importantly, the company should explain and, if necessary, strictly enforce safety policies such as bans on cell-phone use and texting while driving.

Evaluating legal options following a motor vehicle accident

Risky highway behaviors engaged in by young drivers, such as distracted driving, speeding and impaired driving, present obvious and significant risks of personal injury to others. If you have been injured as a result of the risky driving behavior of a young motorist who was driving while acting in another's employment, contact an attorney experienced in motor vehicle accidents. The attorney can advise you on strategies for seeking compensation from those who have caused your injuries.