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.

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

Reader’s Digest Reports on the Best and Worst States for Teen Drivers in First-Ever Analysis

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y., July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States with July being the deadliest month. Each year, more than 5,000 teenagers die on America’s roadways, but these deaths do not need to happen. Shocking statistics, revealed in a new report in the August issue of Reader’s Digest, on sale July 22, highlight the risks teen drivers pose to themselves and others and the desperate need for states to pass stricter laws regulating teen drivers. As the report shows, more stringent laws usually result in fewer fatalities.
Reader’s Digest ranked all 50 states based on their laws in three areas: graduated driver licensing, which imposes certain restrictions on teens before they are fully licensed; seat belt use; and DUI (driving under the influence). Complete rankings, as well as the methodology used in the report and other information, are available at . The report also includes a ranking of states based on teen driving fatalities.

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States were categorized as Best, Good, Fair or Worst. According to the report, the three states considered best for teen driving safety are: Alaska, California and Delaware. Among the worst are Montana, Mississippi and Arkansas, which also rank among the top ten states for the highest number of teen-driving fatalities per 100,000 teens. Reader’s Digest gathered data for this report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As the report shows, a number of factors contribute to teen accidents, including:
— Speeding is a factor in 35% of crashes involving young drivers
— Cell phone use increases the crash risk by 300%

– Adding one passenger to a teen-driven car increases the fatal crash risk by 48%; adding a second increases it by 158%
– 87% of teen deaths involve distracted drivers; radios rank as a top distraction
– During nighttime, teens drivers are three times more likely to die in a crash than during the day
The younger the teen, the greater the risk. The crash rate for 16-year-olds is nearly double the rate for 19-year-olds. Yet, a recent study by Johns Hopkins University for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that comprehensive driver licensing laws decrease deaths among 16-year-old drivers by 38 percent.
“Car crashes kill far too many teenagers each year,” said Andrea Barbalich, Reader’s Digest Deputy Editor. “If we can save lives by passing laws that limit teen driving at night or require more driving time before teens can be fully licensed, then we should all mobilize to make that happen.”
Only 20 percent of high schools offer driver’s education today as opposed to 90 percent in the 1980s, putting the onus for keeping teens safe squarely on parents and state governments. Accompanying the report’s data are tips for teaching a teen to drive and a graphic illustrating the anatomy of a teen car accident, which highlights the factors that dramatically increase a teen’s risk of an accident.
“For decades, Reader’s Digest has been a vocal proponent of safer roads,” said Peggy Northrop, Reader’s Digest Editor-in-Chief. “This report is further evidence of our commitment to this issue and our hope that readers will respond vigorously to our appeal to lobby their state governments to pass tougher teen driving laws.” A sample letter for readers to send to elected officials is available at , along with links to additional resources on teen driving and lobbying state representatives.
Reader’s Digest reaches nearly 40 million readers each month in the United States and twice as many worldwide. Its U.S. website is . The magazine is published in 51 editions and 22 languages, and reaches readers in more than 60 countries. It is the flagship of The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., a global publisher and direct marketer of products that inform, entertain and inspire people of all ages and cultures around the world. Global headquarters are in Pleasantville, N.Y.
Source: Reader’s Digest

New, Stricter Connecticut State Driving Laws for Teens go into effect August 1

Come Aug. 1, Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles will have stricter guidelines for 16- and 17-year-olds seeking learner’s permits and driver’s licenses.

They will face curfews between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. They will have to wait six months, instead of three, to drive with anyone other than an instructor or parent; and one year instead of six months to drive passengers other than family.

“We have evidence that (new drivers) are more likely to crash with passengers,” said Robert Ward, commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. “We want them to know the rules of the road. And they need time to gain experience with the least number of distractions possible.”

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Ward spoke Wednesday morning after a press conference at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford aimed at publicizing the changes in the law.

Local parents and teenagers have decidedly different views on the new rules. Parents interviewed supported Ward. Teenagers didn’t.

“I think it should depend on the individual,” said Lily Grant, 19, of New London. “Leave it up to parents. Why should a good kid be punished?”

Her sister, Summer, 16, got her learner’s permit Wednesday, and is grandfathered in under existing regulations. But she also has a situation the legislature may not have considered.

“I have a twin sister, and we go everywhere together,” she said. “Does that mean we couldn’t drive each other?”

Sherry Filiatreault of Sprague was less sympathetic.

“I have an 18-year-old who took driver’s ed but decided not to get her license,” she said. “I would worry about her friends driving her. I think this gives you more experience before you get behind the wheel with friends in the car. I remember when I got my license, there was not as much traffic as there is now.”

AT A GLANCE
New rules of the road for 16- and 17-year-olds who get their learner’s permits on or after Aug. 1:
— Applicants must pass a 25-question written test.
— New permit holders must have at least 40 hours of behind-the-wheel training before applying for a license and must complete an eight-hour driver safety course.
— Permit holders may not have passengers except for a licensed instructor or parent/guardian with a license.
— Curfew is in effect from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
— During the first six months with a license, the driver may not drive passengers other than a licensed instructor or parent/guardian with a license.
— During the second six months, the only additional passengers allowed are family members.
— Use of a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, is prohibited.
— More information is available at http://www.ct.gov/dmv

Source: By MICHAEL GANNON
Norwich Bulletin

New Washington law bans hand-held phones while driving

SEATTLE (AP) — Driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on a cell phone is no longer an option for Washington state drivers.

On Tuesday, they join more than 28 million others nationwide who have to hang up their cell phones or use hands-free devices. Violators can face a $124 ticket.

“We’ll continue to see more legislation as more devices go in a car,” said Matt Sundeen, who has monitored cell phone laws for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “A lot of people agree these types of devices are distracting, but the real question is — are they so distracting they need some type of restriction?”

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California and Washington are just the latest states to enact laws that prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Both state permit hands-free devices.

This past year, 22 state legislatures considered similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A handful of states — like New York and New Jersey — already have laws in place. Lawmakers in Louisiana recently sent a bill to the governor’s desk.

But traffic-safety advocates say the new laws will have little impact.

“Laws like Washington’s probably will have a big effect on making people feel good about passing a law but zero effect on highway safety,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

However, the new laws could have a big effect on businesses that sell headsets and related projects.

In an investors report issued last week, analysts at Morgan Keegan said they expect a revenue increase of at least $12 million in sales from California and Washington from June into August for Plantronics Inc., a California-based headset manufacturer.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be in an accident. That study suggested that limiting cell phone usage to hands-free devices doesn’t have much of an effect.

It’s the talking that distracts people, traffic-safety advocates say.

“If you continue to allow hands-free phoning, you haven’t addressed the safety problem,” Rader said.

In 2007, there were more than 141,000 collisions in Washington state, and reports on 158 of them listed “operating” a hand-held device — such as a cell phone or an MP3 player — as a contributing factor, according to the state patrol.

“What we’re trying to get across is that when you’re driving, you need to be driving,” said patrol Sgt. Freddy Williams. “It’s going to help keeping both hands on the wheel, but you need to focus on driving, especially at freeway speeds.”

New York, the first state to pass a law against hand-held cell phone chatting, issued more than 81,000 tickets in 2002, the first full year the law was in place. By 2007, the number of tickets jumped to more than 312,000, according to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

New York State Police Lt. Glenn Minor attributes the increase in tickets to police officers becoming more accustomed to looking for the violation.

In North Carolina, which banned teenagers from using cell phones while driving, cell phone use increased after the law took effect, the insurance institute report said. Teen drivers didn’t think the law was being enforced.

Among people on Seattle streets, reaction to the new Washington state law was mixed, although people agreed that using a cell phones is a distraction and may lead to accidents.

“I’ve been in close calls … because I was not paying attention,” said Tony Championsmith, 55, who bought a headset after his latest close call. “Luckily, the other drivers were paying attention.”

Source: MANUEL VALDES