State Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I/Oneonta) announced that Governor David Paterson has signed Seward sponsored legislation that will establish an advisory panel to examine, assess and make recommendations on how to improve and expand drivers’ education in the state. The bill, senate 6985, passed both houses of the state legislature in June. The bill was inspired and heavily supported by the Gentile family of Cooperstown, who tragically lost their son Christopher Gentile in an automobile accident.
The law will create an advisory panel on driver education availability and curriculum enhancement that will help improve the quality and availability of driver education in New York State.
"Driver education is currently not available to many teens in a school setting in New York State, and that's the most convenient and likely place for teens to get driver education. This legislation will improve driver education and make it more available in schools without burdening property taxpayers," Senator Seward said.
"By training our teens to drive safely in a school-based, comprehensive state-of-the art program we will have better teen drivers, less driver fatalities, less overall fatalities, less accidents and injury and less cost to all of us socially, emotionally and economically. I am happy to help in any way I can to achieve this objective," Penney Gentile said. "Senator Seward was instrumental in having this bill passed; without him it would not have gotten through the senate or the assembly."
The state senate passed four other bills this session in an effort to address the high accident rate of young and novice drivers. Senate bill 8019 would establish a commission to examine the factors that contribute to the high rate of car accidents involving teen drivers. Senate bill 8017 would authorize the production of a SAFE-TEEN NY sticker that would help alert drivers to the fact that a car is being driven by a young, and potentially inexperienced, driver. Senate bill 8018 would require parents or legal guardians to attend court appearances when teen drivers are issued traffic violations and senate bill 8124 would limit the number of non-family member passengers under the age of 21 who can be riding in a car when the driver holds a class DJ or class MJ learners permit or license. All four bills have yet to be voted upon by the state assembly.
"I am very excited and thankful to Governor Paterson for responding to his many constituents and to both houses for passing this very important legislation to establish an advisory panel. However, it is just the beginning. The advisory panel has a formidable task ahead of them in not only examining, assessing and making recommendations regarding ways to improve driver education instruction and how to make instruction more available, but also finding ways to fund this program," Gentile said.