WETHERSFIELD, CT - As high schools make preparations for proms, DMV, the Connecticut State Police, medical professionals and other safety advocates urge students, their parents and school administrators to remember and follow the state’s teen safe driving laws.
State laws for 16-and 17-year-old licensed drivers include passenger restrictions, no distracted driving, no drinking and driving, and a seatbelt requirement for everyone in the vehicle. In addition, 16-and 17-year-old drivers face mandatory suspensions and increased penalties for certain moving violations.
Parents also need to be especially mindful about any alcohol consumption or binge drinking that has become the subject of concern among law enforcement, medical doctors in emergency rooms and other safety advocates.
“We want everyone involved with a prom to ensure that teen safe driving laws are followed on that night and throughout the year,” said DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey said. “Let’s make prom season in Connecticut a safe and joyous occasion.”
"Teens and parents need to be aware of the safe-driving rules and know these are important to follow for everyone's safety," said Steve Wolf, MD, Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center.
"Prom season is the beginning of the four most dangerous months of the year for teen drivers - a season of fun, but also joyriding, illegal passengers, and peer pressure to take driving risks," said Tim Hollister, a father whose son Reid died in a crash in 2006 and whose book, NOT SO FAST: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving, will be published this September.
Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police said, “Every driver’s first priority behind the wheel is to pay attention to the road and to other drivers. Obey traffic laws at all times. Remember that traffic may be heavier on the weekends, so be aware of your surroundings and stay safe.”
At Connecticut Children’s, Steve Rogers, MD, said, "When teens want to drive, or even to ride in a car driven by another teen, I urge parents to ask about the who, what, why, and where of your teen's travel plans.”
“Be there for your teen to make sure that they and their friends follow the very laws that have been designed to reduce their crash risk." said Rogers, an emergency physician and who also staffs the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children's.
Two high school-student-made videos illustrate the importance of safe driving at prom time as well as all year-round. These come from the 2013 teen safe driving contest sponsored by the DMV in cooperation with Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Connecticut Children’s, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, !MPACT, the State Police and other safety advocates.
Statistics show that motor vehicle crashes continue to be the No.1 cause of death for 15-19-year-olds and most teen crashes occur during the first two years of having a license.
For more information on the laws and restrictions, visit DMV’s Center for Teen Safe Driving website at ct.gov/teendriving.