More Practice Now Mandated for Teen Drivers

New rules call for more practice -- especially at night

By Greg Cergol
|  Monday, Feb 22, 2010  |  Updated 7:15 PM EDT
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More Practice Now Mandated for Teen Drivers

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Teen drivers are about to get more training in New York.

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Is your teen ready to get behind the wheel of a car?

New York state thinks young drivers need more training and will now require a minimum 50 hours practice before 16 and 17-year-olds can qualify for a license. 

The prior minimum was 20 hours.

In addition, 15 of the 50 training hours must be driven at night.

"The fatality rate went down significantly when we required them to be in a car supervised for a minimum 20 hours," said Connetquot high school driver's education teacher Charles Trupia.

"So the added hours will make a difference."

State lawmakers approved the added training time in an effort to reduce teen car fatalities.

"These new laws will provide teens with the valuable experience they need to operate a motor vehicle safely, ultimately lowering injuries and fatalities in this age group," said state DMV commissioner David Swarts.

But do the added requirements go far enough?

"Would you get in a plane where the pilot had only twenty or fifty hours of training?  Probably not," said Wendy Tepfer, executive director of the Community Parent Center, a driver safety advocacy group.

The new training requirements will not apply to 18 year olds, who according to the DMV, can take their road test immediately after receiving a learner's permit.

Parents need to take a more active role in their teen's driver training, insist safety advocates.  They need to ensure the new drivers don't try to get around the training requirements.  The penalty for those who lie about their driver training is a suspended license.

"A lot of kids are overconfident.  They feel invincible and just want to get in their cars and go," said Connetquot high school junior, Ryan Wickes, who is now taking driver's education.

"There are consequences," said Dr. Jeffrey Stark, an Oceanside podiatrist who lost his son Adam in a car accident in 2001.

"It's too late to do anything once your child is dead or has killed someone."

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