FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2017
Contact: Eric Naing, 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Teen Driver Safety Week: Who Made The Hall of Fame, Who Missed Opportunities That Are a True Shame and Who Has Bills Still in the Game
Newly Released Data Shows Teen-Involved Fatal Crashes Are Up – Time for State Elected Officials to Upgrade Young Driver Safety Laws
This National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 15-21, 2017), Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) calls on state legislatures and governors to take immediate action to prevent motor vehicle crashes – the number one killer of teens. New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that involvement of young drivers, ages 15 to 20, in fatal crashes increased by 16 percent from 2014 to 2016. Fortunately, research-driven solutions are known. Comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs are a proven way to get young drivers the knowledge and experience necessary to avoid crashes. Advocates urges state elected officials to advance legislation still in play this year, lauds lawmakers who have repeatedly worked to improve state GDL programs, and calls out missed opportunities to pass GDL laws which could have led to making the learning-to-drive process safer for young drivers.
“Momentum to improve teen graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws has come to a screeching halt despite fatalities being on the rise. This deadly disconnect must end,” said Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Vice President of Governmental Affairs Cathy Chase. “State elected officials need to prioritize teen driver safety. We urge swift action on ‘Bills Still in the Game’. We applaud the state safety champions who made our ‘Hall of Fame’ by relentlessly pushing for GDL laws. And, ‘Missed Opportunities that are a True Shame’ could have made the roads safer for novice drivers and all sharing the roads with them,” stated Chase referring to a chart on 2017 legislative action on GDL laws issued by Advocates today.
Members of the “Hall of Fame” include California Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D), New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) and New York State Senator Carl Marcellino (D). Sen. Marcellino has sponsored a bill to enact a GDL cell phone ban to reduce young driver distraction every session since 2005.
“Distracted driving is an epidemic on our roadways and is particularly deadly for young, inexperienced drivers,” stated Senator Carl Marcellino (D). “S. 1257/A. 3881 will make the learning-to-drive experience safer for teens by eliminating the distractions caused by cell phone use. It’s time for New York to put safety first and tell teens to put down the phone while driving.”
Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D) has introduced two significant bills to strengthen the California GDL program and is the father of a young driver killed in a crash. Both bills were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown (D). This year’s bill extended the state’s GDL program to include older teens and young adult novice drivers. As more teens delay getting a driver’s license, extending GDL safety benefits to older teen drivers is critical.
“I authored AB 63 in partnership with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, whose 14,000 members witness fatal traffic accidents involving young drivers on our roads and highways every day,” said California Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D). “I am disappointed the governor did not trust the judgment of his own Highway Patrol officers, who strongly support extending the Provisional Driver License Program. It is also the will of the Legislature, which twice has approved this legislation and put it on his desk. This legislation has proven to save lives after it has been implemented in other states, where fatality rates have declined as much as 27 percent. The results of expanding Provisional Driver License Programs are dramatic and undisputed.” (Click here for full statement)
The state legislatures of Maine, Maryland, and Nevada also failed in advancing important GDL legislation introduced this past session. All states and the District of Columbia are missing one or more of Advocates’ optimal GDL provisions as outlined in its annual Roadmap Report. Furthermore, no state has enacted comprehensive GDL legislation to qualify for federal grant funding provided by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act” (Pub. Law 114-94).
As National Teen Driver Safety week sparks conversations about young driver safety across the country, it’s important to highlight that there are young driver safety bills “still in the game” and could become law in New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The bill in New Jersey would enact a supervised driving requirement and it is crucial that it advance now because it will not carry over to the 2018 legislative session.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) stated, “Nearly ten years ago the New Jersey Teen Driver Study Commission recommended supervised driving hours be added to the current law. Getting practice driving under your belt before being handed the keys to drive solo is a proven life-saver. I urge my fellow elected officials to support S. 2335/A. 3407 which would achieve this improvement and make our roads safer for teens and everyone driving along with them on New Jersey roads.”