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Tougher Teen Driving Laws Reduce Fatalaties
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HARTFORD -- A preliminary review by the state department of motor vehicles indicates teen driving laws that took effect nearly a year ago, are working.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 and 17 year olds.  After a string of fatal accidents involving teen drivers last year, Governor Rell signed a bill that created tougher restrictions and penalties for drivers under 18.

The new requirements order teens off the road by 11 p.m., an hour earlier than previously required. And on-the-road training for young drivers has been increased from 20 to 40 hours.

State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Robert Ward, says the regulations appear to have had a positive effect.

"We took a look at the statistics of both crashes resulting in death, and for the 8-month period that we have data, it shows a significant reduction, that means lives saved. We also took a look at convictions for offences that lead to crashes -- speeding, cell phone usage, and drunk driving -- and we're seeing significant drops amongst teen drivers, 16 and 17 years old, in all of those categories."

Parents must also attend part of a mandatory 10-hour driver education class. Ward says it's a way for them to be aware of the risks associated with teen driving.

"So parents would learn what the crash statistics were, what the reason is for the restrictions, because we  know kids are going to complain about that."

Ward says it will take about two years to fully analyze the effects of the new law.