NTSB Chairman to Speak at Md. Town Hall Meeting Focusing on Teen Driving Deaths

December 16, 2004

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners will speak to Washington, D.C. area parents about teen driving safety at a town hall meeting on Thursday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m.

“In Maryland, teen drivers are less than 6% of the driving population but comprise almost 12% of the drivers involved in fatal crashes,” said Conners. “It’s time for teen driving safety to be a priority in the Maryland legislature and in legislatures around the country.”

Conners also noted that there are elements within the graduated licensing program that Maryland still needs to adopt, such as:

* Extend the mandatory holding period for a learner’s permit from 4 months to at least 6 months.
* Extend teen nighttime driving restrictions to start earlier.
* Limit the number of teen passengers that holders of intermediate licenses can transport to zero or 1, unless accompanied by a supervising adult at least 21 years old.
* Restrict novice drivers from using a wireless phone while driving.

The meeting will be an opportunity for parents to learn about the risks teens face as new, inexperienced drivers and to find out about resources available to help them keep their teens safe behind the wheel.

“Parents should take a more active role in setting the ground rules for their teen drivers by following the three-stage graduated licensing program – learner’s permit, intermediate (provisional) license, and full licensure. This will help prevent tragedies on the road,” said Conners.

The town hall meeting is being convened following a series of highway fatalities involving teenage drivers in the Washington suburbs in recent months.

The Safety Board has a long history of examining causes and consequences of teen driving crashes. In 1993, the Board issued the first of a series of recommendations to reduce and prevent young driver accidents. These recommendations — including graduated driver licensing, nighttime driving restrictions, passenger restrictions and underage drinking — remain on the Board’s list of Most Wanted safety recommendations.

The meeting will be held at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, in Montgomery County. AAA, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Parent Teacher Student Association, Daimler Chrysler, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Safety Council and the NTSB will host the event.

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