Local News

Four Months Later, Graduated Licensing Gets Mixed Review

Posted April 14, 1998

— Inexperience is deadly behind the wheel. New statistics show 16 year olds are far more likely to die in a car crash than drivers who are just a year older.

A new North Carolina law may turn those numbers around. Graduated licensing went into effect last December. Now it's tougher for sixteen year olds to get behind the wheel unsupervised.

Parents and driving instructors WRAL spoke with say the laws will definitely help save lives.

Wyatt Jenkins is about to turn 15, and he's looking forward to getting his driver's license soon. But he knows he'll be one of the first kids who'll be under new tougher laws-- laws that some of his friends think are unfair.

"Some of them were mad," Jenkins said, "but I think it's a good idea. I wasn't mad 'cause I knew I was going to get more driving time, and I knew when I turned 16-and-a-half I'd feel comfortable driving."

Under the new laws, anyone under 18 will have to drive with a learner's permit for one full year.

Driving instructor, Joey Austin, says the kids learn a lot in the 36 hours they're trained, but that's nothing compared to a year of practice.

Parent, Melanie Jenkins, says the kids need more experience because there are many obstacles they are going to face on the road today.

Once kids under 18 get their licenses, they cannot drive unsupervised after 9:00 p.m. for the first six months. Austin believes that will help keep teens out of trouble.

The law gets even tougher. If the young drivers are cited for any traffic or speeding violations, they get the restricted license for another six months.

The new law has been in effect for four months now. Driving instructors say it will take a full year before they can judge the exact effects of the new law.


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