Parents must be first enforcers of new law
A new driver's license program will place restrictions on teenagers behind the wheel.
ENFORCEMENT of a new law on driver's licenses for young people
will largely fall to their parents and guardians. Though police officers can stop teenage drivers who they believe are violating the new law, they are unlikely to do so unless other violations are evident.
The safety of their offspring should motivate adults to make sure young people in their families are aware of and comply with the new restrictions, which are part of a program to ease teenagers into the responsibilities they take on with driving privileges.
Beginning Jan. 9, licenses for teenagers will be issued under a graduated program aimed at reducing accidents and fatalities. At 151/2, they can get an instructional permit that requires a licensed driver to be in the seat next to them, but between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., a parent or guardian must be the licensed driver.
At ages 16 through 17, teenagers can receive a provisional license, but cannot have more than one other minor in the vehicle without a parent or guardian also present. Nighttime driving without a supervising adult also is prohibited unless they have written permission from an employer or parent. Full licenses can be obtained at age 17 if the teenager has a clean driving record and has completed driver's education.
The graduated licenses are similar to programs in 40 other states that have reduced injuries and deaths among young drivers. Studies have shown that though teenagers make up only 7 percent of drivers, they comprise 14 percent of highway accidents with most of those occurring at night.
Driving is one of the most dangerous activities teenagers undertake. If the new law is to be effective, parents will bear much of the responsibility of watching over their children.
Parents, guard those keys.
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