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Wednesday, July 18, 2007
U.S. Senate On Designates July As "National Teen Safe Driver Month"
The U.S. Senate recently passed a resolution designating July 2007 as "National Teen Safe Driver Month." National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark V. Rosenker praised the newly signed legislation, saying, "It highlights the importance the nation places on reducing the number of teen highway fatalities and injuries. The Safety Board believes accidents involving youths can by reduced by states implementing a graduated drivers license program for young drivers and preventing teens from using wireless communications devices while driving."
The legislation, which is being observed by federal, state and local governments, fosters the development of resources to provide affordable, accessible and effective driver training for every teenage driver of the United States.
The leading cause of death for 15- through 20-year-olds is still automobile crashes. Teen drivers constituted only 6.3 percent of licensed drivers in 2004, but were involved in 13.6 percent of all highway fatal crashes and 18 percent of all police-reported crashes.
Concerning youth drivers, the Safety Board made the following recommendations:
- Pass laws to provide for a three-stage graduated licensing (GDL) system for new young drivers, and restrict new young drivers with provisional or intermediate licenses, unless accompanied by a supervising adult driver who is at least 21 years old, from carrying more than one passenger under the age of 20 until they receive an unrestricted license or for at least 6 months (whichever is longer). All 50 states have enacted some form of GDL legislation.
- Introduce legislation to prohibit holders of learner's permits and intermediate licenses from using cell phones and other wireless communication devices while driving. As Chairman Rosenker noted, Virginia enacted a new law on July 1, 2007 that prohibits teen drivers from using interactive wireless devices except in an emergency. At the moment, 18 states have some form of restriction on youth drivers using wireless devices.