FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, February 22, 2010
DMV COMMISSIONER ANNOUNCES NEW GRADUATED DRIVER LICENSE LAWS
Statewide Changes Strengthen The Current Law For Younger Drivers
Commissioner David J. Swarts of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) reminded motorists about the new Graduated Driver License (GDL) laws that take effect today.
The law was one of 68 bills signed by Governor David A. Paterson on August 26, 2009. Also included was a provision that prohibits using portable electronic devices, such as cell phones, to send text messages or e-mails while driving and one requiring children under the age of eight to be restrained by a child restraint system in a motor vehicle. The new GDL provisions require that a Junior Permit be held for six months before a road test can be taken. It increases the required supervised driving time while a younger driver holds a permit from 20 hours to 50 hours, with 15 of those hours being after sunset. The new law also eliminates the issuing of the Limited Use Junior License and reduces from two to one the number of non-family passengers under age 21 that are allowed in the vehicle of a Junior Driver.
"The DMV remains committed to educating and preparing our youngest motorists for the responsibility of driving" said Commissioner Swarts. "These new laws will further provide them with the valuable experience they need to operate a motor vehicle safely, ultimately lowering injuries and fatalities in this vulnerable age group, and making our roadways safer for all drivers."
"I applaud Governor Paterson for supporting this much needed legislation," said Penny Gentile whose 18 year old son was killed in a 2007 Middlefield, New York crash. "The additions to the Graduated Driver License law will help reassure parents that their teen drivers are taking on only what they are prepared to handle and, in turn, operate more safely on the road."
Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teens, and the crash fatality rate is highest for 16 to 17 year olds within the first six months after getting their license. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 16 and 17 year old death rates due to crashes increase with each additional passenger, and approximately two-thirds of teen passenger deaths (age 13-19) occur when other teenagers are driving.
These GDL enhancements strengthen the current law and address the main causes of teen driver crashes, which include distractions and inexperience. New York State's Graduated Driver License laws will now be more closely aligned with national GDL models published by AAA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to an AAA nationwide review of Graduated Driver Licensing laws, states with at least five of the seven model GDL components show fatal crash rates of 16 year old drivers are 38 percent lower than states with none of the components. New York now has adopted six out of the seven components recommended by AAA.
Graduated licensing is a system designed to limit full licensure, allowing beginners to obtain their initial experiences under lower risk conditions. For drivers under the age of 18, the typical process of obtaining an unrestricted license has three stages: a minimum supervised learner's period, an intermediate license issued after the skills test is passed that limits unsupervised driving in high-risk situations and a full-privilege driver's license available after completion of the first two stages. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have Graduated Driver License laws, but they vary in terms of provisions and stringency.
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