Posted at: 09/30/2013 11:11 PM
By: John Doetkott
Teen Driving Crashes Declining
(ABC 6 News) -- New data show a decrease in the number of teen drivers getting into serious crashes on Minnesota roads.
According to the Minnesoat Department of Public Safety, the number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes has been cut nearly in half since 2007.
In that same time period, the total number of crashes involving teens has dropped by more than 30 percent.
Experts say the decrease is likely due to restrictions that went into effect in 2008 that require new drivers to hold their permit for six months before getting a license.
The restrictions also prohibit new drivers from having more than one passenger, and from driving between midnight and 5 a.m..
That law's chief author, DFL Rep. Kim Norton of Rochester, said the dramatic decrease is exactly what legislators were looking for.
“It’s been very exciting to see those kinds of results,” Rep. Norton said. “It's what we'd hoped for, but you just never know what will happen and we were very pleased, all of us are."
But others wonder if the restrictions don't go far enough.
Betsy Donovan owns Northgate Driving School in Rochester, and she said increasing the waiting period between getting a permit and a license could only help to make teens more prepared.
“We’re in Minnesota, we’ve got four seasons. So there's some kids that get their license, hold it for six months, and then all of a sudden they're driving in the winter by themselves,” Donovan said. “So I would probably like to see a year, but I think it's really helped to have the six months."
Experts said that in lieu of additional restrictions, it's up to parents to enforce the current laws and make sure their kids are getting enough time behind the wheel.
“The more the parents drive with their kids the better drivers they are. And we can tell right away if a parent is working with them,” Donovan said. “But I really do think parents are taking this seriously and I do think that they're backing up the laws which helps."