Michigan’s Graduated Driver’s License Level 2 Restrictions Change

Graduated Driver’s License Level 2 Restrictions will take effect on March 30, 2011. The law will add the following new requirements:

Prohibit a driver with a Level 2 graduated driver’s license (GDL) from operating a motor vehicle carrying more than one passenger who is under 21 years of age, unless:
a. passengers are members of the driver’s immediate family, or
b. travel is to or from school or a school-sanctioned event.

In addition, the nighttime restriction has been extended to 10:00 p.m. from the original midnight starting time. The new nighttime restriction is from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m unless driving to or from employment.

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Both of these restrictions remain for the duration of the Level 2 graduated driver’s license.

The sanctions for violating these new provisions are:
A civil infraction is entered and 2 points are added to the driving record.
Notice of the civil infraction shall be sent to a designated parent or guardian.
GDL Level 2 period is extended for 12 months.
A driver reexamination will be scheduled with possible license suspension and/or additional restrictions imposed.

For additional information, please visit the Michigan Department of State website at http://www.Michigan.gov/sos. You may also contact us by telephone at (517) 241-6850 or by email at DriverEd@Michigan.gov.

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Michigan Approves Additionals Restrictions on Graduated Licenses

Teenagers will find tougher restrictions this spring when a law passed at the end of the legislative session goes into effect.

Restrictions on Michigan’s graduated licenses for 16-year-olds will include:

• No driving from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless traveling to and from a place of employment. That’s changed from midnight to 5 a.m.
• Only one passenger age 20 and under, unless accompanied by a parent or an adult over age 21 designated by the parent. There are exceptions for driving to and from school and school events.

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These are good restrictions that will help save lives. Indeed, a Centers for Disease Control analysis released in October found a 38 percent drop in 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal accidents between 2004 and 2008. The analysis attributed the drop to tougher graduated licensing restrictions passed by the states.

The CDC found 9,644 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal accidents during that five-year span, causing more than 11,000 deaths. The study recommended that states periodically review their graduated licensing to make adjustments.

Michigan did just that, taking steps to further reduce two of the most dangerous situations for young drivers: inexperience at night driving and difficulty coping with distractions caused by passengers.
The CDC analysis specifically noted that the data don’t indicate improvement in the skills of young drivers as much as tougher laws that are keeping more teen drivers out of dangerous situations.

The Automobile Association of America, which advocated for tougher restrictions, noted that Michigan had been one of only eight states with no restrictions on passengers carried by young drivers, even though it had been among the front runners when adopting graduated licensing in 1997.

Sadly, lawmakers missed a chance to make the roads safer still by banning the use of cell phones in cars. The revisions to the state’s young driver law originally called for a ban on cell phone use, which was dropped before final approval.

Of course, that restriction should not be limited to teens on a graduated license. Research shows that driving while talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving while impaired. The Legislature passed a ban on text messaging while driving last year, but failed to ban talking on cell phones while driving. With a new legislative session opening, that’s one bill Michigan could use.

Source: LSJ.com

We’re entering the ‘danger season’ for teenage drivers

This past weekend marked the beginning of summer for many schoolchildren. It also is the start of the most dangerous time of year for young people on the nation’s roads.

States have done just about everything they can to try to improve the traffic safety record among teens; Now it’s up to teens and their families and friends to do even more.

The statistics don’t lie. Drivers age 16 to 20 account for more highway deaths than any other 5-year age group, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, and the death rate is worst during the summer months — when teens are driving and playing more than during school.

The problem is compounded by the fact that teen drivers and their passengers also are the least likely to use seat belts.

And it doesn’t help that the inexperienced drivers in this age group also are most likely to be distracted — by friends and by cell phones, especially.

Most states require that a 15-year-old who has completed basic driver’s education requirements must then spend 50 hours over the next six months driving with a parent or guardian, 10 of those hours at night.

During this superviser learning program parents can improve their teens new driving experience by identifying the vehicle the teen is driving with a “Rookie Driver” or a “New Driver” magnet. Simple to use, just place the magnet on the car when the teen is driving (along with the parent) and take the magnets off when the parents are driving.

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With successful completion of that six-month period, young drivers can receive restricted licenses.

As this summer gets into full swing, it would be a good time for parents to sit their teenagers down for an important talk about safety and the rules that should accompany the privilege — and it is a privilege, not a right — of newfound four-wheeled freedom.

Youth and Driving Don’t Always Mix Safely

Teen drivers are more likely than adults to crash their car, due to their youth and inexperience — but don’t try telling them that.

Studies have found that teens have an overblown sense of their driving prowess, one that can and does put them in the middle of some truly terrible crashes. They also don’t understand that distractions such as cell phones and teenage passengers can make driving more dangerous.

“Kids tend to judge their experience on getting a license,” said Dr. Kenneth R. Ginsburg of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The truth is that getting a driver’s license is the very first step to gaining experience.”

It’s an established fact that young drivers crash more often than older drivers, and with worse consequences. People between 15 and 24 years old represent just 14 percent of the United States population, but they account for 30 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28 percent among females, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2005, 4,544 teens ages 16 to 19 died of injuries incurred in crashes, the CDC says. That same year, nearly 400,000 teenage passengers or drivers of vehicles involved in crashes sustained injuries severe enough to require treatment in an emergency department.

“A new driver at any age is going to have a higher crash rate, but with teenagers, you’re combining that experience deficit with immaturity and risk-taking,” said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Ginsburg headed a study that asked high-school students their opinions of a number of risky driving situations. Sixty percent of the students said that driving experience was very important, but only 15 percent said they had ridden with inexperienced drivers.

Most of the kids in Ginsburg’s study didn’t understand that cell phones could be a distraction to a driver. They also didn’t realize that having other teenage passengers in the car posed a safety risk — a troubling statistic given that two of every three teen drivers surveyed said they often traveled with teen passengers.

“Passengers for older drivers can be neutral or even beneficial, but when teen drivers have teen passengers, they are more likely to crash,” McCartt said. “That’s likely due to distraction passengers bring to the vehicle, and an increased propensity to take risks.”

Another study, this one in Canada, found that high-school students tend to harbor mistaken beliefs that lead them to underestimate the risks of driving. The teens in that study believed that:

Their youth and agility make them better able than more experienced drivers to overcome poor driving conditions or intoxication.
Vehicle problems and highway design are more likely than human error to cause crashes.
If they were in a crash, doctors would be able to save their lives and bring them completely back to normal.
But the study did contain some bits of good news as well. Teenagers seemed to understand that drinking and driving were a bad mix, Ginsburg said.

“Substances are used by a relatively few kids, because they’ve heard that message, and they get what the risk is,” he said. “On the other hand, having passengers in the car and talking on cell phones happens more frequently, and they’re all distractions.”

Ginsburg said that parents need to take a role in disabusing their kids of wrong notions about driving.

“Parents matter,” he said. “Parents are the ones in charge of making sure kids follow restrictions and graduated driving laws. The challenge is for parents to make clear that these restrictions aren’t about control, they’re about safety, and they come from a place of love.”

McCartt’s group has recommended a tougher solution: Raise the driving age to 17 or 18. She points to New Jersey, which is the only state that issues licenses at 17 and which has a consistently lower rate of teen deaths in car crashes than its neighboring states.

“Teen drivers are not good at even identifying whether something’s risky or not,” McCartt said. “The evidence from New Jersey suggests other states would benefit substantially from increasing the age at which teens get their license.”

Source: HealthDay News ScoutNews, LLC.

Arkansas House Approves New Young Driver Restrictions

The Arkansas House on Wednesday approved new restrictions for young drivers after a debate that sharply divided rural and urban lawmakers.

Lawmakers voted 58-35 in favor of the bill by Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, who a day earlier tearfully urged a legislative committee to back the plan. Jeffress, a retired school teacher from Crossett, told lawmakers that keeping teens off the road late at night and restricting the number of passengers they can have will save lives and prevent injuries.

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Jeffress’ bill sets restrictions for 16-year-old and 17-year-old drivers. The measure now goes back to the Senate for consideration of an amendment. “This is by far the most dangerous time of a driver’s lifetime,” said Rep. Gene Shelby, D-Hot Springs, the House sponsor of the bill.

The bill bans motorists under 18 from driving between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. except for work, school or emergencies. It also prohibits the young drivers from having more than one passenger who is not a family member. But rural lawmakers, like Rep. David Dunn of Forrest City, said carpooling is often necessary for teens and children to get to school and other activities.
“I just think we’re out of bounds and I think we’ll have a horrible time enforcing this,” said Dunn, a Democrat.

But backers of the bill argued that the measure puts in place an important tool for parents — a law to keep their teens off the road late at night and from driving around with a carful of friends. “Driving is a privilege, not a right,” said Rep. Allen Kerr, R-Little Rock. “And yes, it’s our job as parents to administer that privilege, but there (are) an awful lot of parents out there that need help.”

Source: JILL ZEMAN, AP
Wed Mar 04, 2009, 04:40 PM CST

Fewer teen driving deaths in ’08 In Illinois

Teen driving deaths in Illinois dropped by more than 40 percent in the first full year of the state’s graduated driver licensing law.

In 2007, 155 teenagers ages 16 to 19 were killed in automobile crashes. In 2008, 92 teens died in crashes, according to Secretary of State Jesse White.

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“I am pleased that this law is working as we intended,” White said in a press release. “The goal all along was to save lives. When I first convened the Teen Driver Safety Task Force nearly three years ago, we knew we had our work cut out for us. We knew that automobile crashes were the leading cause of death for teens.

“We worked hard and put together one of the best (graduated drivers license) programs in the nation. While too many teens are still dying on our roads, we can take some solace in the fact that 63 fewer teens died in crashes last year.”

White made the announcement at a press conference at Taft High School in Chicago, where he presented a Teen Driving Safety Award to principal Arthur Tarvardian and driver education instructor Mike Hionis for Taft’s outstanding driver education program. White emphasized the important roles parents, high schools and driver education instructors play in preparing safe and responsible teen drivers.

“We have formed a partnership between the secretary of state’s office, parents, schools and driver education instructors,” said White. “Working together, we are saving lives and making our roads safer for all of us.”

Illinois law gives teens more time to obtain valuable driving experience while under the eye of a parent or guardian, limits in-car distractions and requires teens to earn their way from one stage to the next by avoiding traffic convictions. State and national traffic safety organizations have praised the law as one of the best in the nation.

“The good news that 40 percent fewer teens died on Illinois roadways in 2008 speaks volumes about the benefits of a strong GDL program,” said Judith Lee Stone, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, based in Washington, D.C. “I commend Secretary White for his efforts. Even considering reductions in driving due to the economic downturn, credit for saving lives can easily be given to recent improvements in Illinois laws that phase in full driving privileges for beginning teen drivers. Every state in the nation should follow Illinois’ example by passing and enforcing strong, effective teen driving laws.”

Source: http://mywebtimes.com

Teen Drivers Ignoring Cell Phone Bans

According to this article, there has been an uptick of cell phone use in the states where they have banned cell phone use while driving for minors. What I found more troubling, is that in those states most parents didn’t even know about the teen driving law.

“The survey that asked parents and teenagers by phone about the ban, showed that teenage drivers were more likely than parents to say they knew about it: only 39 per cent of parents said they were aware of the new law compared with 64 per cent of teenage drivers.”

I worry when I see evidence of complacency by parents of teenagers. If the law had been that your 2-year-old child needed to be in a double strapped car seat, most parents would know and comply. When our kids get older, we are not only handing over the responsibility of complying with driving laws, but we are also handing over the responsibility to even know what those laws are. Some of that responsibility still remains with us, the parents.

When teaching independence there needs to be checks and balances. You need to check(find out what the laws are, establish your rules) and balance(talk to your teen and follow through with your discipline). In order to find out what the driving laws are for your teen, visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website.

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Lest you feel I sound too much like the expert and not enough like a real mom, let me share that my oldest answered her cell phone while driving home from her license test. Her reason? It rang. My wonderful-but-often-too-lenient-husband was flabbergasted. For a man who doesn’t like to do ‘the talks’ in our home, he certainly did a fine job that day. Our family rule: Turn off the cell phone before starting the car.

Link to cell phone laws for each state: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html

What are your thoughts? What rules have you established with your teen driver?

Source: Denise Witmer, About.com Guide to Parenting Teens since 1997

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