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Task force to study state's teen driving laws

News-Times, News-Times
Published 7:00 pm, Friday, November 30, 2007
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The goals of the group, which will include parents whose children died in motor vehicle crashes, will be to educate youngsters and their families about safety issues.

The Teen Safe Driving Task Force will have a variety of members. Officials from law enforcement, insurance, medicine, driver education, and school administration will join representatives from the state departments of Motor Vehicles, Public Health, Transportation and Public Safety.

Rell on Wednesday appointed DMV Commissioner Robert M. Ward and Dr. J. Robert Galvin, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, as co-chairmen to guide the group's formation of both short and long-term goals.

"There is a clear need for a re-examination of requirements for driving, how we -- state regulators, law enforcement, education officials and parents -- stress the critical issues of safety and make that message effective," Ward said in a statement.

"This is a critical issue because the loss of a child is never acceptable," Galvin said. "We know that education and awareness programs work, and we must continually strive to make our communities safer through a combination of education, awareness and new laws."

Last year, 16- and 17-year-olds were involved in 4,942 accidents, compared to 5,118 the year before, Rell said. There were 14 fatalities in that age group during 2006 and 13 the year before.

In the last four months, four teenagers were killed in one collision and three in another.

Recklessness, failure to pay attention and speed are the main reasons young drivers crash.

"Even one death is horrific and ripples through the lives of friends, families and communities," Rell said in a statement. "We need to find new strategies for dealing with this issue."

The task force, which will set its own deadline for creating recommendations, will also look at current penalties that youthful drivers face for violating state rules.

Contact Ken Dixon

at kdixon@ctpost.com

or at (860) 549-4670.