Local News

New Driving Restrictions For Teens Take Effect Sunday

Posted November 27, 2002

— Picking up a few friends to toss around a football will not be legal for some teenagers come Sunday. A new law outlines a six-month period in which a teen driver cannot carry more than one passenger under the age of 21.

"It's going to be tough because you have to work out who's going to drive who, especially at lunch at school, because we all cram five people into a car," driver Justin Oakland said.

A study from the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center in May suggests that the fatality risk for teen drivers soars with passengers.

The analysis found that the risk of such crashes increases by about 33 percent with one passenger. But it jumps 134 percent with two or more passengers.

Experts say teens take risks and are too easily distracted with friends in the car.

Rebecca Carbonell, 16, just got her license last month. Her mother, Augie, already has strict rules for her daughter - no radio, no cellphone and no passengers.

"There's less of a chance of having her have four or five people in the car, talking, chatting, causing her to be distracted and lose focus," Augie said.

Rebecca said the new law goes too far.

"We passed the driving test," she said. "We should be able to do what we want to do, but our freedom is restricted."

If teens are caught breaking the new law, they can be fined $25 plus court costs. They also have to restart their six-month driving period all over again.

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