Connecticut Says Tougher Teen Driving Laws Showing Positive Results

This month, Connecticut is observing the four-year anniversary of the state’s adoption of tougher teen driving laws. And officials say the measures continue to put in check teen driver deaths.

A series of high-profile crashes in 2007 triggered a campaign that a year later brought new laws with longer periods of passenger restrictions, an 11 p.m. curfew time, stiffer penalties for violations, extended training requirements and a mandated parent-teen information session about safe driving.

According to state officials, the new laws that in 2008 brought increased restrictions, tougher training requirements and expensive penalties for violations, are credited for a steady stream downward in 16- and 17-year-old drivers’ deaths.

Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The number of teen drivers killed in crashes fell from a high of seven in 2007 — the year before the new laws started — to one for last year.

“I think these laws continue to show Connecticut’s forward-looking approaches to positive results in protecting the youngest and most inexperienced of our drivers,” said Melody Currey, commissioner for Connecticut’s department of motor vehicles.

Transportation study researchers in Trumbull, Preusser Research Group, have also found that Connecticut has seen a strong reduction above the national average for teen driver crashes. Comparing crashes before and after the passage of new laws, Preusser found a 34 percent reduction in 16 and 17-year-olds’ crashes in Connecticut compared to a 26-percent national average.

Authorities say crashes are the number-one national killer of teenagers. States across the country have begun to enact special laws designed to protect this young group of drivers. Preventing teen crashes have also become a public health issue championed by doctors and other health professionals.

Dr. David Shapiro, trauma surgeon at St. Francis Medical Center in Hartford, is working with DMV and the teens to help promote its contest and awareness about safe driving.

“A significant drop in teen traffic fatalities demonstrates that not only has legislation made an impressive impact but it appears that the teens, their peers and their parents are taking an active role by abiding by the laws to improve their safety behind the wheel. This all started with institution of the laws and those affected by the law responded to it,” he said.

Source: Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles