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DMV: CT Teen Driving Laws Are Saving Lives

Today marks the 4th anniversary of new laws intended to keep teen drivers safe, and DMV officials say they've been a success.

Today is the 4th anniversary of Connecticut’s tougher teen driving laws and state officials say data shows that the new laws are saving teenagers' lives.

The new laws were first passed in 2008 and brought increased restrictions on teen drivers, tougher training requirements and higher penalties for violations. They are credited for a , according to officials with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

In the last two years alone, the number of teen drivers killed in crashes fell dramatically from a high of seven motor vehicle deaths in 2007 --- the year before the new laws were implemented --- to just one death last year.

“I think these laws continue to show Connecticut’s forward-looking approaches to positive results in protecting the youngest and most inexperienced of our drivers,” said DMV Commissioner Melody Currey.

A series of high-profile crashes in 2007 triggered a campaign on teen driving laws that lead to the new teen driving laws. The measures include restrictions on the number of passengers teen drivers can have in their vehicle, impose an 11 p.m. curfew for teen drivers as well as stiff penalties for violations of the curfew, extend training requirements for teenage drivers and mandate a parent-teen information session about safe driving before a teen can get their license.

Transportation researchers in Trumbull, the Preusser Research Group, determined that Connecticut has seen a significant drop, greater than the national average, for teen driver crashes since the laws were passed, DMV officials said.

The study group found that after Connecticut imposed the new teen driving laws in 2008, the number of car accidents among teenage drivers, chiefly 16- and 17-year-olds, dropped 34 percent in Connecticut compared to a 26 percent decline nationally.

A group of teens working with the DMV on designing its 2013 teen safe driving video contest said the laws have raised awareness among their friends.

The DMV provided the following quotes from a sampling of teens who worked on the video:

  • “These laws governing teen safe driving have proven to be very successful and awareness is much more evident,” said Michael Brainerd, 16, of East Haven.
  •  “The teen safe driving laws have resulted in fewer fatalities and continued commitment will only increase safety and the well-being of teens,” said Luke Edwards, 16, of Madison.
  • “Teens have become safer drivers as have their friends and family. The message continues to spread,” said Juhi Gupta, 16, of Rocky Hill.
  •  “Teens think twice before engaging in reckless acts of driving,” said Patrick Kudej, 16, of Norwich and first place winner in the 2012 DMV teen safe driving video contest.
  • “It is encouraging to know that the state has my back. If the laws weren’t there, teens wouldn’t take the precautions,” said Daniyal N. Khan, 17, of Berlin.

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death nationally among teenagers, DMV officials said, and states across the country have begun to enact special laws designed to protect young drivers. Preventing teen crashes has also become a public health issue championed by doctors and other health professionals.

Dr. David Shapiro, trauma surgeon at St. Francis Medical Center in Hartford, is working with the state DMV and teens to help promote safe driving among teenagers.

 “A significant drop in teen traffic fatalities demonstrates that not only has legislation made an impressive impact but it appears that the teens, their peers and their parents are taking an active role by abiding by the laws to improve their safety behind the wheel. This all started with institution of the laws and those affected by the law responded to it,” Shapiro said.

Hugh G Rection August 02, 2012 at 12:42 AM
As formerly stated by one Thomas Jefferson, "Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Such laws have done nothing but further the immaturity of our children. This kind of legislature restricts them from gaining the necessary life experience we all had at their age; it difficult to get a job when you have no means to get there, sociallizing is limited for the same reason. A 16 year-old who has driven for 4 days is just as incompetent a driver as any 17 year-old learning driver, and we are simply prolonging their immaturity, and therefore their adult incompetence.
Brian Quinn August 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM
This is a letter I gave to Governor Rell CT MSI Motor Sports Initiative June 16, 2009 Premise: No youth should get their license to drive on CT roads without some fundamental experiences in a controlled environment: Examples include: Panic Stops, Skidding, Hydroplaning, Entering a turn too fast, Failed equipment, Snow simulation CT has numerous athletic ball fields in every town in this state. Yet as a trained Boy Scout Leader, I recognize that other kids gravitate to computers, the arts, camping or towards motorsports. Connecticut kids have access to all of the above except for a legal way to enjoy motorsports. In all of the other states in the northeast (and most of the country) off highway vehicles are utilized on legal trail systems. Dirtbikes, Go-carts, ATVs and snowmobiles are outstanding recreational vehicles that enable a parent and child to learn together how to operate and work on these vehicles safely together. CT treats these families as outlaws. And the state suffers financially from CT residents leaving the state to enjoy their motor sports. See Part 2:
Brian Quinn August 02, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Part 2: The CT MSI would take a refreshing approach. Instead of creating more laws to try to protect new drivers with little to no real world experience, MSI suggests that we teach our own kids through clubs, parenting or even youth organizations similar to scouting. By simply taking apx 2 acres of “open space” in participating towns and paving them, we would now have parks built to be used for real world practice. Efforts in keeping our kids safe by re-writing the laws have been helpful. But at some point, we need to focus on educating our kids further for when a law is not there to save them. I have worked with kids all my life. This program could be the model that states across the country would look to CT for leadership . In the end, we want to keep our kids and roadways safe.
Rapture August 13, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Brian I think the Motor Sports Initiative is a fantastic idea, and very unique I might add. As a young adult, only 10 years past getting my own drivers license I can vouch that these real life experiences would have helped me panic less for the upcoming winters, we all know too well here, in New England...

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