Connecticut is observing the four-year anniversary of the state’s adoption of tougher teen driving laws, and the Department of Motor Vehicles is reporting that the laws are having the intended effect. A series of high-profile crashes in 2007 triggered a campaign that a year later brought new laws with longer periods of passenger restrictions, an 11 p.m. curfew time, stiffer penalties for violations, extended training requirements and a mandated parent-teen information session about safe driving.
According to state officials, the new laws that in 2008 brought increased restrictions, tougher training requirements and expensive penalties for violations, are credited for a steady reduction in 16- and 17-year-old drivers’ deaths. The number of teen drivers killed in crashes fell from a high of seven in 2007 — the year before the new laws started — to one for last year.
Transportation study researchers in Trumbull, Preusser Research Group, found that Connecticut has seen a strong reduction- more than the national average - for teen driver crashes. Comparing crashes before and after the passage of new laws, Preusser found a 34 percent reduction in 16 and 17-year-olds’ crashes in Connecticut compared to a 26-percent national average.
Among the leaders of the effort to improve Connecticut's teen driving laws was Hartford attorney Tim Hollister, whose sone Reid died in a one-car accident on I-84 in December 2006. Hollister served on a gubernatorial task force whose recommendations led to the new, stricter laws.
Under Connecticut law, 16-and 17-year-olds, for the first 6 months after obtaining a driver license, may only drive with:
- Parents or legal guardian at least one of whom holds a valid driver license
- Licensed driving instructor or
- Person providing instruction who is at least 20 years old, has held a license for at least 4 years with no suspensions during the last 4 years
For the second 6 months, may drive with the above people and may also drive with immediate family (e.g., brothers, and sisters). And until 18 th birthday, may not drive between hours of 11 p.m. – 5 a.m. unless it is for:
- religious activities
- medical necessity