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Reports show Maryland's new teen driving laws are saving lives

Historically, young drivers were not allowed to obtain a driver's license in most states until they reached the age of 16. Some states, such as Maryland, have taken steps in recent years to extend the driving age by several months. The change in the law occurred in 2009, after state lawmakers took notice of the high rate of car accident fatalities involving new drivers.

Previously, new drivers were allowed to obtain a learner's permit when they turned 16. The new law extends the age requirement to 16.5 years of age. The law also places restrictions on the number of passengers that a new driver is allowed to have in his car during the provisional license period.

New drivers are only allowed to have one family member or an adult over the age of 18 in car for the first 151 days after receiving their learner's permit. This provision was enacted in response to the elevated number of accidents that occur when teen drivers operate a vehicle that is packed with other teens who tend to distract the driver.

Safety advocates believe that a recent study shows that the new driving rules are working to save lives. The study reveals that car accident fatalities among new drivers have dropped by 25 percent since 2009, when the new restrictions went into effect.

In 2008, the state of Maryland reported 106 deaths related to teen driving accidents. By 2010, that number had been reduced to 64. This report brings up additional questions on whether teen driving laws should be restricted even further. Do you think that the current law is strict enough or should the legislature place additional restrictions on new drivers?

The Capital: "Our Say: Numbers vindicate tougher state rules on teen driving," 28 Jun. 2011

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