Galef Aims to End Teenage and Inexperienced Driver Fatalities

March 5, 2007

Assemblywoman Galef is introducing legislation to directly combat inexperience within new teenage drivers, by increasing supervised driving hours and curtailing the number of occupants within a car.

“It is absolutely necessary that we fully educate our young drivers and protect them and other motorists from inexperience on our roadways,” said Galef. “We must do all we can, legislatively, to keep our young drivers safe and secure.”

Assembly bill 2220 of 2007, increases the number of driving hours required to be supervised prior to the issuance of a limited class or class DJ or MJ license, from twenty to fifty and requires fifteen of those hours to be during sunset and 9 o’clock at night. Assembly bill A.2221, of 2007, places restrictions on learners’ permits and drivers’ licenses, by prohibiting inexperienced drivers to have other teenagers in the car unless accompanied by a licensed driver twenty one years of age or older; putting into action the recommendations of the Automobile Association of America (AAA).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2005, 44 percent of fatalities of 15 to 20 year olds occurred in speed related crashes. Also, states with night-time driving restrictions show crash reductions of up to 60 percent during restricted hours. Furthermore, NHTSA reports, in their Beginning Teenage Driver statistics, that 78 percent of 16 year old fatalities and 69 percent of 17 to 19 year old fatalities were due to driver error. During devastating fatal crashes, 29 percent of the time the car was occupied by more than three occupants, with a driver 16 years of age, and 24 percent of the time with a driver 17 to 19 years old.

“An automobile can be a dangerous weapon in the hands of an inexperienced driver,” said Galef. “Just as young children are unsteady when they first learn to walk, teens need time to adjust to the complexities of learning to drive.”

A recent report released by AAA found that car accidents are the leading cause of death among 16-19 year olds. In New York State alone, 279 fatalities of 15-17 year old drivers occurred between 1995 and 2004. Nearly 280 passengers of these drivers were killed during this time period. In this eight year span there were also 187 occupants of other vehicles that were killed along with 86 non-motorists, bringing the total of fatalities caused by 15-17 year old drivers to over 800, averaging 100 per year in New York State alone.

Galef believes, “By enacting these small changes, we could cut back on the number of accidents involving young people. It is my hope to see this legislation become law, to make the roads safer for new drivers, while also protecting our motorists and pedestrians across the state.”