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Harsher teen driving laws getting results

As previous posts have mentioned, the high number of car collisions in the state of Connecticut has prompted lawmakers to create more serious driving laws, inspired educational organizations to focus on safe driving techniques and moved law enforcement to engage in ticket sprees across the state. One example of these extra efforts to reduce car accidents involves stricter laws for teen drivers. The month of August marks a four-year anniversary since the state of Connecticut created rigid driving rules for teens.

August is the deadliest month for teen drivers. In the hot summer days before school begins, teenagers with licenses frequent the roads. Here is where, tragically, a series of auto accidents causing serious injury most often occur. One negligent driver, distracted by texting or web surfing on his or her phone can cause unending pain and suffering for others. Connecticut had enough of these statistics, and in 2008, enacted stricter driving laws in an effort to reduce accidents.

The laws require longer behind-the-wheel training for teenagers, extend restrictions on passengers while learning to drive, and impose harsher penalties for violations. The laws also prohibit cellphone use, even hand free phones, to teenagers on the road. And, there is evidence the laws are working.

Since the laws were enacted in 2008, Connecticut transportation researchers estimate incidents of teen crashes reduced by 34 percent. This is eight percent better than the national average which is a 26 percent reduction for that same period of time.

While some teenagers resent the harsh laws, most Connecticut community members believe the laws are saving lives. The most serious crash that occurred since the laws were enacted happened in 2010. A 16-year-old driver with a learner's permit carried three passengers in violation of the state law. The car crashed, killing the four inside. Investigators ultimately determined speed was a factor.

The serious consequences of negligent driving, particular involving teenage drivers, are enormous. Therefore, the Connecticut laws, while bothersome to a number of teenagers, are likely worth the inconvenience thanks to the lives saved.

Source: Norwich Bulletin, "Connecticut teen driving rules saving lives," Alison Shea, Aug. 18, 2012.

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