Senate Passes Lanza's Bills To Keep New York’s Young Drivers Safe

Andrew J Lanza

June 17, 2008

The New York State Senate today passed a package of bills, sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-I, Staten Island), as part of SAFE-TEEN New York, a comprehensive package of legislation designed to keep New York’s younger, less experienced drivers safe while on the road and prevent future tragic accidents.

"Our teens are at risk every time they get behind the wheel as evidenced by the troubling fact that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers," said Senator Andrew Lanza (R, Staten Island). "This package of bills will create awareness, and ensure that New York State implements the best possible safety and supervision measures so that our teen drivers keep themselves and others safe."

"Young drivers are faced with numerous distractions while behind the wheel that can put themselves, and those around them in danger," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. "All too often, we read about tragic accidents that take the lives of teens and young drivers that could have been prevented. These bills are intended to limit distractions behind the wheel and ensure that teens are focused on the road."

"Too often when we pick up a newspaper, we read about tragic accidents taking the lives of young, inexperienced drivers," said Senator Marty Golden, Chairman of the Senate Task Force on Critical Choices. "As a parent, I can’t imagine the pain and horror endured by the parents who lose their children in senseless accidents which could have been prevented. Our SAFE-TEEN New York package provides commonsense solutions that will help keep young drivers, and those around them, safe while on the roads."

"Keeping our roads -- and families -- safe is a top priority," said Senator Tom Libous, Chair of the Transportation Committee. "Taking action to help teens become better drivers and to give parents more tools to help their kids are common sense steps to making New York's roads safer for all drivers."

The legislation, passed by the Senate today would:

> S. 8018 - Require parents or legal guardians to attend court appearances when teen drivers are issued traffic violations;


> S. 8017 - Authorize DMV to produce a SAFE-TEEN NY sticker and make the sticker available to all parents and legal guardians. These optional stickers, which could be placed on certain vehicles, would help alert law enforcement and other drivers to the fact that a car is being driven by a young, and potentially inexperienced, driver; and


> S. 8019 - Establish the SAFE-TEEN New York Driver Safety Commission, a 12-member panel of experts who would examine a wide array of factors that contribute to the high rate of car accidents involving teen drivers and make recommendations for new programs, policies, and statutes to improve teen driver safety.

The Senate passed legislation earlier this session that would:

> Limit the number of non-family member passengers under the age of 21 that can be riding in a car when the driver holds a class DJ or class MJ learners permit or license (S.8124, Senator Lanza);

> Prohibit drivers from writing, sending or reading text messages while driving (S.3195-C, Senator Marcellino);

> Prohibit the use of any and all electronic devices for drivers under the age of eighteen, including but not limited to iPods, texting devices and cell phones, including hands-free cell phones (S.8332, Senator Golden); and

> Create an advisory panel on driver education availability and curriculum enhancement, in order to improve the quality and availability of driver education in New York State (S.6985, Senator Seward).

According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for persons ages 15 to 20. Teen drivers, mile to mile, are in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. More than 7,000 teens die annually in traffic crashes.

The bills were sent to the Assembly.