Since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, about 5,500 Americans have been killed in combat and war-related incidents. During that same period of time, more than 40,000 teenagers died in traffic accidents on US roads.
Every year, accidents kill more teenagers than drugs, crime or war combined. And another 400,000 teens are injured. That’s nearly 1200 teenagers killed or injured every day … nearly 100 teenagers every hour.
When we say “car crash” and “teenager” in the same sentence, we mean drunk driving, right? Wrong.
The two leading causes of teenage accidents are inexperience behind the wheel and driving while distracted. For example, most teenagers don’t have a lot of experience driving when it’s dark out. And passengers are one of the biggest distractions for teens. So, it’s no surprise that one of the most dangerous situations for teenage drivers is driving at night with friends in the car.
That’s why many states, including New York, have put Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws into effect. GDL laws limit a new driver’s exposure to the situations that carry the greatest risk, like driving late at night or carrying teen passengers in the car. These limits are lifted at age 18 when a driver is more mature and experienced.
“Graduated Driver Licensing is a good thing – it saves lives,” says Steve Mochel, owner of Fresh Green Light, a new driver training center in Rye. “GDL has consistently been found to significantly reduce the collision risk for teens. In fact, the number of accidents decreased by 62% the first year GDL went into effect in New York.”
On February 22nd, New York changed its driver licensing laws to help address teenage drivers’ inexperience and distraction behind the wheel.
First, a new driver will have to complete fifty hours of supervised driving with either a parent or certified instructor before they can get their license. Fifteen of these hours need to occur at night.
Second, teenage drivers will only be allowed to have one passenger who isn’t a family member in the car with them at any time.
“Bottom line, these new laws make common sense,” says Mr. Mochel. “You’ve probably spent a lot more than 50 hours learning to play a sport or instrument well. And you weren’t trying to learn while you were chatting with your friends. Becoming a good driver takes the same level of practice and concentration. And unlike those other activities, making a mistake behind the wheel can have terrible lifelong consequences.”
Here’s a link to an overview of the new requirements for Teen Drivers in New York:
Fresh Green Light is a 21st century approach to driver training for teens and adults utilizing state-of-the-art driving simulators, 2010 Ford Hybrid cars, online scheduling and outstanding driving coaches.