Raia Unveils Bill to Make Public Aware of New Drivers

Legislation aimed at reducing accidents involving inexperienced motorists
March 24, 2006

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF-East Northport) was joined by local educators, and concerned citizens to unveil legislation that would alert motorists to the presence of an inexperienced driver through a new and innovative change in the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

“Inexperienced drivers pose a threat not only to themselves but to other drivers as well and sadly the majority of fatalities in these crashes are people other than the driver,” said Raia. “The lack of experience and higher levels of risk-taking behavior associated with teen driving is a deadly combination.”

Raia noted that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenage drivers. Young drivers start out with little knowledge and experience needed to make safe and cautious driving decisions. In addition, young drivers are prone to engaging in high-risk behaviors such as speeding, drinking and driving, and lack of seat-belt use.

“I can teach a teen driver how to maneuver a three point turn or parallel park, but they still lack the experience needed to make split second decisions on the road that could possibly mean life or death,” said Joe Marenda, an experienced Drivers Ed. teacher.

“In light of the recent study, ‘Teen Crashes – Everyone is at Risk,’ which found nearly two out of every three people killed in teen crashes are people other than the teen driver,” said Raia. “It’s imperative that we provide the means to alert motorists of inexperienced drivers.”

Raia has introduced legislation that requires the posting of a small sign on vehicles used by new drivers that will facilitate better decision making from licensed motorists. It requires all motor vehicles used by drivers with a probationary license to display a non-permanent sign on their vehicle containing the words “NEW DRIVER”. It also extends the probationary period by three months for drivers found guilty of not using the sign.

Raia noted that the original idea for the “NEW DRIVER” sign came from a constituent, John Masserwick. “As a constituent of Assemblyman Raia, I am pleased to see him follow through with my idea and introduce this important legislation. I am confident that the “NEW DRIVER” sign will help motorists be more aware of potentially dangerous situations on the road,” said Masserwick.

“This legislation will help save the lives of young and old alike. I witnessed the benefit of this program first hand on my recent trip to Israel and it also is used in Japan and throughout Europe. According to statistics available for the most recent year, 2004, Suffolk County had 470 accidents due to driver inexperience. We must take action to alert motorists of the potentially fatal threat posed by a new driver,” concluded Raia.