Maryland teens may face new driving restriction

Posted at 5:22 PM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 06:50:54-05
The night before their high school graduation, three teenagers died when their truck crashed in Clarksburg, Maryland.
The 17-year old behind the wheel had a provisional driver’s license, which kept him from driving after midnight.
"That crash occurred at 11:30 and these were good kids doing good things.  Alcohol was not a factor. They were driving a little too fast on a country road," said Capt. Tom Didone of the Montgomery County Police Department. "We know we have the crash data for provisional at midnight, but it helped me realize that nothing good comes after midnight, but sometimes now I'm thinking nothing good comes to teen drivers after 10 p.m."
In 2015, young driver fatalities in Maryland skyrocketed by 75 percent, and last year, it appears the numbers climbed even higher.
Now, there's a push in Annapolis for lawmakers to turn back the clock for teen drivers to 10 p.m. unless they're driving because of work, school, athletics or in the company of a licensed driver who is at least 21.
"If we can save some kids and save others, I don't see the drawback,” said Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, one of the bill’s sponsors, “I think we're one of only a few states that don't actually have this last piece of it.  I think that Vermont is the only other state that has no requirements whatsoever.  So we're on the right track, but this will make it even better."
Over a 10-year period, police in Maryland reported almost an accident each night involving a 16- or 17-year-old between the hours of 10 p.m. and midnight.
While advocates expect plenty of push back from young drivers and their parents, who may be inconvenienced by an earlier curfew, they say this is about prevention, not punishment and teens still have other options.
"Teens do have options these days,” said Tara Gill of Advocates For Highway & Auto Safety, “If kids are out later and they're over 16, they have the option of a hire service like Uber or Lyft taking them home.  So they don't necessarily have to drive."
A recent survey conducted by AAA Mid-Atlantic of motorists found 77 percent of them are in favor of the new 10 p.m. restriction.

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