PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It is just after school and car loads of teenagers leave school and head for points unknown.
In the eyes of safety experts, it is a recipe for disaster.
“Because when you think about it,” says Ultimate Defensive Driving School Founder James Clair, “When you hear about an accident with young people on the road it’s never just one young person, it’s always a group of kids in the car.”
Once signed by Governor Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s new teen safe driving law will end the days of carpooling 16-year-olds.
“They can only have one passenger for the first six months,” State Rep. Mike Turzai said, R-Allegheny, said.
After six months if they are not involved in a reportable incident, the junior driver can then carry up to three passengers until they are 18 when the limits come off.
Teenagers are predictably unhappy with the law.
“Stupid!” was one girl’s comment as she rode in a friend’s car from school. One of her classmates commented, “I think if you focus on the road you can have more than one passenger.”
Clair says the law is a good first step but it ignores the critical issue of teen drivers and cell phones.
“Teens at least 16 to 18, we should have had something in there about that cell phone, not using that cellphone while they’re driving, not texting, I think it should have been in there.”
Turzai says a texting ban is coming, but in a separate bill which he hopes will be passed by Thanksgiving.
Turzai says the importance of the passenger restrictions should not be underestimated.
Turzai says in 43 other states that already have similar restrictions have seen fatality statistics decline.
“It’s been a drop off in teen fatalities in accidents to the tune of over 20 percent.”
In addition to the passenger restrictions, the law raises the number of required training hours from 50 to 65 before a new driver can take the driver’s test.