The car accident deaths of two San Diego teens and prompted a reexamination of the enforcement of teen driving laws that were enacted a decade ago. Under those laws, teen drivers ages 16 to 18 are prohibited from driving a vehicle with anyone under 20 years old in the car during the year after they first get their license, unless an adult was present. [Cal. Veh. Code 12814.7] The teen license is called a provisional license.
It is widely agreed that teenagers that follow the law are safer drivers. In the case of the two local deaths, there is a good chance both accidents would have been presented with an adult in the car. Studies have shown that when a teen has one other teen in the car, the risk of a car accident doubles. With three or more passengers, the risk quadruples.
But many believe that the teen driving laws are rarely enforced. Under the law, a teen cannot be cited solely for violating the provisional license. They must be pulled over for some other infraction first. According to CHP officer Lew Hall, most officers don’t write many tickets for provisional license violations because they are more focused on the driving infraction, and may not notice that the driver had been licensed for less than a year.
Last year, CHP cited 2,106 teen age drivers for driving in violation of their provisional license. Many believe the laws have been working. Only two years after the laws were enacted in 1998, car accidents involving 16-year-old drivers dropped 24 percent. In 2007, the last year data was available, personal injury and fatal accidents involving 16-year-old drivers were at a 13-year low.
Source: North County Times
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