Four years ago today, Connecticut passed tougher teen driving laws. But have they really made a difference?
According to a press release from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the laws passed in 2008 have significantly decreased the number of teen driving fatalities.
The laws increased restrictions on teen drivers and toughened training requirements and penalties for violations. DMV credits this get-tough policy for "a steady stream downward in 16- and 17-year-old drivers’ deaths."
In 2007, seven teens were victims of fatal car crashes. Last year, there was only one.
“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 DMV Commissioner Melody Currey.
The press release states:
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.
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.
Motor vehicle crashes are the top 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.