Student driver car accidents

Determining fault in an accident involving a student driver can be complicated. If the student driver is found to be negligent, they or their parents may be held responsible for damages. In other cases, the instructor supervising the lesson, or even the driving school, may be responsible.

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Who's responsible if a learner driver has an accident?

If a learner driver crashes, responsibility will depend on the circumstances of the accident, such as if a drivers ed instructor was present, if the student was driving recklessly, and who owns the car that was crashed. Generally, though, if the learner driver was at fault for the accident, their insurance coverage (through their own policy or their parents') would apply.

What happens if you crash during a driving lesson?

If the crash was preventable via dual controls: Depending on the circumstances, the instructor may be at fault or may share fault with the student driver, especially if they could have prevented it using their dual controls. Part of the instructor's job is to intervene when necessary to avoid an accident.

Example:If a student driver fails to notice a stop sign, the instructor's job is to hit the brakes. If the instructor fails to hit the brakes when they should and there's an accident, they may be held at least partially responsible.

If the student driver was driving recklessly: The student driver would likely be found at fault if they intentionally ignored road signs or the instructor's directions at the time of the accident.

If the other driver in the crash was at fault: The other driver's liability insurance coverage should pay for injuries and damage to the school's car.

What happens in a car accident with a learner's permit driver in a personal vehicle?

If the student driver is logging practice hours in a personal vehicle, such as a parent's car, they may be held responsible for damages they cause, as with any other crash. In this case, the parents' car insurance policy would likely cover the damages, assuming the student driver is listed on or otherwise covered by the policy.

What happens if you crash during a driving test?

Student drivers can be responsible for damages they cause during a road test, just like they would be if they had their license. Requirements for road test cars vary based your state's BMV/DMV and graduated driver's license (GDL) program, but students usually have to provide their own vehicle for the test. If they're using a family vehicle for the test, their parents' policy should cover them if they get into an accident.

If they're driving a vehicle borrowed from a friend or a rental from a driving school, the friend's or driving school's insurance may provide some coverage. However, exactly whose insurance would pay for damages would depend on the circumstances of the accident.

Does a student driver need insurance?

Yes, student drivers need car insurance, but they may not need their own policy. If you have a student driver in the house driving a family vehicle, ask your insurer what you need to do to make sure the student driver is protected. It may be as simple as adding them as a driver on your existing car insurance policy.

Even if your insurance company doesn't require you to add them as a driver while they're learning (they may be covered automatically by your family policy), they'll need to get their own policy or be added to yours once they get their license. Learn more about car insurance for teen drivers.

If the student driver lives at a different address (as with an adult learning to drive, for example), they'll have to get their own policy or share a policy with someone they live with. They'll need at least the minimum required car insurance for their state.

What should you do if you have an accident with a learner's permit?

Like any other accident, you should exchange insurance information with the other driver, call the police, and wait for help. You'll probably need to provide a statement to the police. You should also take photos and notify your insurance company of the accident, even if you were driving a car owned by a driving school instead of a family car.

Learn more about the steps to take after an accident.

What happens if a student driver gets pulled over?

If a driver with a learner's permit gets a ticket, the consequences will depend on your state GDL laws and the circumstances of the violation. For example, a ticket for a student driver might include:

  • A fine
  • A longer period before they get their intermediate or full license
  • Suspension of their learner's permit

Serious circumstances like a DUI may even result in arrest.

Can a student driver who had an accident or ticket still get their license?

Depending on your state GDL laws, if a student driver gets a moving violation, they may have their learner's permit taken away, or they may have to wait longer to get their license. It's also possible that they can move forward with getting their license as usual. Check the details of the violation and your local laws to understand your specific circumstances.

If a student driver was in an accident that wasn't their fault, it likely won't affect their ability to get their intermediate or full license.

How to get insurance for a student driver

New Progressive customers

Get a car insurance quote online or call 1-866-749-7436 and we'll help customize coverage to the new driver in your family.

Current Progressive customers

Add your family's newest learner's permit holder by logging into your policy or calling 1-866-749-7436.

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