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News Oct 16, 2012 - 11:10:30 AM

Students, state officials mark National Teen Safe Driving Week

By Department of Motor Vehicles

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WETHERSFIELD, CT - The results of two national studies on teen safe driving show that Connecticut is among the most advanced states whose laws help to prevent crashes injuries and deaths. This information comes as the state marks National Teen Safe Driving week Oct. 14 - 20.

Connecticut's year-long restrictions on driving with friends in a car are among the toughest in the country and are credited with helping save lives. The state has seen a 91-percent reduction in teen driver deaths in the last decade. Studies released last week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Governors Highway Safety Association showed in general that deaths involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers had nationally increased 11 percent over the previous year and that the risk of a fatal crash increased as the number of teenage passengers increased.

"These new studies highlight Connecticut’s leadership in protecting teen drivers and improving overall road safety,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “Without a doubt, these driving laws help us reduce crashes and save lives, but teens and their parents are critical partners in the effort to develop safe driving habits and be responsible behind the wheel.”

“Laws alone are not enough,” said Attorney General George Jepsen, the father of two teenage sons. “Teens need to help their friends stay safe behind the wheel by encouraging them to obey the rules and by minimizing the distractions that increase the risk of a serious crash. Don’t call them or text them while they are driving. Nothing you can tell them is worth risking their life.”

Attorney General Jepsen was a spokesman for state attorneys general in a national public service campaign this year to discourage young adults from texting and driving.

"These laws and everyone's efforts -- teens, parents, safety advocates and communities across the state -- are paying off in our progress, yet this is an issue that needs constant reminders like this dedicated week to teen driving safety," said Commissioner Melody A. Currey of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Attorney General, DMV, the Connecticut State Police, the Governor's Highway Safety Office, the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, AAA and Travelers Companies met with students at Mercy High School in Middletown Monday to talk about teen driving safety issues. Students from the DMV Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Teen Safe Driving also delivered safety messages to their peers. They are: Luke Edwards, senior, Daniel Hand High School, Madison; Juhi Gupta, senior, Mercy High School, Middletown; Patrick Kudej, senior, Norwich Free Academy and Daniyal N. Khan, graduated senior 2012, Berlin High School.

As Connecticut enters its fifth year following the passage in 2008 of strong teen driving laws, a recent Connecticut analysis shows parents of teen drivers have a keen awareness of the safety measures and state's laws. Support for the laws remains high with over 85 percent of parents saying they are effective in reducing crashes, injuries and deaths. However, it also showed the need for more parental outreach to increase parents’ knowledge of specific laws and safety risks.

A series of high-profile crashes in 2007 triggered an intensive nine-month public awareness and law-changing campaign in 2008. A task force to recommend changes to teen driving laws was formed. Safety advocates including those from the state and federal government, education, law enforcement, public health, medicine, parents and others examined the issue and proposed solutions.

Their proposals brought revamped laws requiring longer periods of passenger restrictions for teen drivers, an earlier 11 p.m. curfew time for these drivers to be off the road except for certain situations, harsher penalties through increased fines and license suspensions for violators of the laws, rigorous training requirements for study and on-the-road practice, and a mandated parent-teen information session about safe driving and teen development. The new laws went into effect on August 1, 2008.

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