Our July issue, which included Robin Green’s article, “New York State Close to Graduated Driver’s License”, went to press the same week the New York State Legislature agreed on a graduated licensing bill. After years of unsuccessful wrangling, the State Senate and Assembly finally compromised on a graduated licensing measure which goes into effect September 1, 2003. Under the new restrictions, drivers under the age of 18 will have to wait six months before they can take their road test to get a junior license, during which time they must spend at least 20 hours driving with an experienced licensed driver or driving instructor. In addition, whenever a driver with a learner’s permit is at the wheel, a licensed adult must be in the front seat, all passengers in the car must wear seatbelts, and a maximum of two passengers under 21 are allowed. Upstate drivers with a “limited class” license will be able to drive alone to and from school, work, doctors’ appointments, and daycare.
Between 1990 and 2001, there were 110 teenage driving fatalities in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, whereas states which had introduced graduated drivers’ licenses noted promising changes: Michigan had a 25 percent reduction in accidents involving 16-year-olds and North Carolina had a 27 precent drop in teen crashes.