Recent Tragedies to Bring Increased Enforcement of Driving Laws
In the span of the four days at the end of April seven young people lost their lives in traffic accidents.
It has been said that parents shouldn’t have to bury their children; tragically, a recent wave of traffic accidents has Minnesota parents doing just that.
In the span of the four days at the end of April seven young people lost their lives in traffic accidents. A single-car accident near Rochester killed three teens and sent another to the hospital with severe injuries. Near Cambridge, a collision claimed the lives of seven people, including three teens and a young adult.
Sadly, both accidents have a common denominator — none of the young people killed was wearing a seatbelt.
Restrictions on Young Drivers
The state of Minnesota already imposes several restrictions on young drivers beyond the safety rules that all drivers are obligated to follow, including the mandatory seatbelt law. Teen drivers are subject to:
“Not a Drop” Law – It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle after consuming any amount of an alcoholic beverage.
Passenger Limitations – Only one passenger under the age of 20 is allowed to ride with a teenager for the first six months of licensure, unless a parent or guardian is also in the vehicle or the passengers are members of the driver’s immediate family.
Cell Phones, Texting – No one under the age of 18 is allowed to use a cell phone while driving, including a hands-free headset. Nor are they allowed to text or e-mail while behind the wheel.
Nighttime Driving Limitations – For the first six months that a teen is licensed, they are not allowed to drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. There are limited exceptions, including traveling to/from school or work and if there is a passenger in the vehicle at least 25 years of age.
Graduated License – For drivers under the age of 18, there is a three-tiered program of licensure (that still encompasses all the other restrictions placed upon teen drivers). The process involves:
Instruction permit — A teen is only allowed to drive under the supervision of a parent or guardian, driving instructor or other adult at least 21 years of age.
Provisional license — A teen is eligible to drive without the supervision of an adult after six months of supervised driving with an instruction permit and the passage of a road test.
Full license — Received at the age of 18 (or after holding a provisional license for 12 consecutive months) provided the driver has not received a crash-related citation, any conviction involving drugs or alcohol, or more than one moving violation (non-crash-related, such as speeding tickets).
In the wake of the fateful four days that took so many young lives, the Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner is asking law enforcement to focus on aggressively enforcing the state’s laws concerning seatbelts, teen drivers and drunk driving (DWI). The legislature is also considering the possibility of additional restrictions on the driving privileges of young people.
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