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Teen Car Crashes Drop; New Law May Play Role

The number of car crashes involving teenage drivers has dropped, mirroring a statewide dip since implementation of a 1998 law limiting teen driving privileges, according to the California Highway Patrol and the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The number of crashes caused by 15- and 16-year-olds in Los Angeles County dipped from 612 to 505 over the first nine months of 1999 compared with the same span the year before. Statewide, the number has dropped from 3,314 to 2,740--a reduction of 17%, the CHP said.

“It could still be a one-year fluke,” said Marie Montgomery, spokeswoman for the Automobile Club, one of the law’s backers, but “we’re hoping that it will bear out. It really showed that there was an effect.”

The law, which took effect July 1, 1998, increased the amount of training required before teens can get their licenses and prohibited younger drivers from carrying passengers under age 20 during their first six months of driving.

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Sixteen- and 17-year-olds must now have learner’s permits for six months, instead of 30 days, before getting their licenses. During that time, they are required to log 50 hours of supervised driving time, including 10 hours at night, with a parent or other adult over 25.

In addition, the law stipulates that for the first year after teens get their licenses, they must have a parent, guardian or other adult 25 or older riding with them if they’re driving between midnight and 5 a.m.


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