Are more strict driving laws decreasing teen crashes? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Are more strict driving laws decreasing teen crashes?

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Albany- A recent study shows that over the past five years the number of teens killed in crashes has declined. However, teens make up about 7% of the South Georgia population but they're involved in 30% of accidents. That's a big percentage of teens, especially when many will be on the roads this week for Spring Break.

From West Broad Avenue and South Slappey, you can see the traffic. With the increase of traffic, there's also an increase of teen drivers on the roads. "I'm here to get my driver's license and I'm very proud of that,' says 15 year-old Daniel Mercer.

Daniel has been anticipating his chance behind the wheel but he's also apprehensive because of crashes. "I'm kind of scared a little bit right now. I don't know what to expect you know. I've never driven on the road with cars going everywhere so I don't know what's going to happen so I guess I'll just have to find out," says Mercer.

 Because of teen uncertainty while driving, TADRA or the Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act makes it more difficult to get that piece of plastic. "There was a trend over several decades increasing teenage fatalities particularly in the suburban areas of metro Atlanta," says Albany Safe Communities Coordinator Michele DeMott.

So the legislature decided to put in some graduated licensing restrictions and because of those strict Georgia Teen Driving Laws, a new study shows that the number of teens killed in speed-related crashes has dropped in the state. "Crashes have come down about 23% since TADRA went into effect, went into full effect in 2001," says DeMott.

Even though there's a decrease in crashes, there's still a need for teens to be careful on the road especially around this time of year. Spring Break is a time for teens to exercise extreme precaution. "They're excited, they want to get to the beach in a hurry but Panama City is going to be there in an extra hour, take your time, don't get in a hurry," says DeMott.

And officials say the best way for teens to be safe is to keep the cell phone in it's cradle, radio at a moderate level and seatbelts clicked before hitting the road.

posted by len.kiese@walb.com