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Teen Drivers and The Law

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

As the school buses begin to roll again on Alabama’s roadways so do vehicles driven by newly licensed teen drivers. Many are unaware that drivers age 16 to 19 have the highest risk of vehicle accidents. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for individuals age 16 to 24. Nearly a half million teens are injured in vehicle crashes on American roadways annually with 3,800 of them involving fatalities. Unfortunately, Alabama ranks #5 in the nation in the number of teens killed each year by vehicle crashes.

In 2002, Alabama passed a law aimed at safeguarding teen drivers from the most dangerous distractions and/or driving environments; hoping to provide them enough time to gain valuable driving experiences in varied types of situations before allowing them to “fly completely solo.” This law is called the Graduated Drivers’ License Law (GDL) which was revised in 2010 and again in 2015. It is essential that parents/guardians of teen drivers, as well as the teens themselves, be familiar with the stipulations outlined in this law. Some of the most important safety measures contained in the GDL are:

• Teen drivers with a graduated driver license ages 16 to 17 may NOT have more than one non-family passenger other than the parent, guardian or

supervising licensed driver at least 21 years of age.

• These teens may NOT operate a vehicle between the hours of 12 midnight and 6 a.m., unless:

A. accompanied by a parent or legal guardian

B. accompanied by a licensed adult 21 years of age or older with parental consent

C. going to or from their regular place of work

D. going to or from a school-sponsored event

E. going to or from a religious-sponsored event

F. driving due to a medical, fire, or law enforcement emergency

G. driving to or from hunting/fishing activities in possession of required licenses

• These teens may NOT drive while operating any non-essential handheld communication device

Any teen driver ages 14 to 15 can receive a restricted license to drive a motor driven cycle which must not weigh more than 200 pounds and not exceed 150cc engine displacement. Teens 16 years and older can take the motorcycle exam; if they pass receive a Class M license valid for four years.

Regardless of the preferred mode of transportation you want your teen driver to fully understand the law and Keep an Eye on Safety at all times.