This week New York State changed its rules regarding teenage drivers to improve safety on the roadways. Effective immediately, teenage drivers with a learner's permit obtained at age 16 will be required to wait six months to take their road test to obtain a license. Second, the new law increases from 20 to 50 the amount of hours that the teenage driver must complete, as verified by a parent (15 of those hours during night time) before he or she can get a license. Third, drivers with learner's permits or a junior license are now limited to one non-family passenger under the age of 21 in the car unless there is an adult in the vehicle as well.
The new rules have been established due to significant statistics reflecting the percentages of teen and young adult drivers in New York car crashes. According to the National Safety Council, motorists aged 16 to 24 comprised 16% of all drivers in New York, but accounted for approximately 26 % of all injuries and New York wrongful death fatalities in 2008. In 2001, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that the amount of car crashes almost doubled for each additional teenage passenger in a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2008 that 16 year old drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a car accident than 17 year olds, and a whopping 5 times more likely to be in crashes than 18 year old drivers!
For those of us with teenage children and impending young drivers in the near future, the new law is a very sensible and proactive approach to improving young driver safety, and I applaud the legislators behind this new legislation.