DMV: On the right road with teen driving laws

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WETHERSFIELD–Despite Tuesday’s tragic crash in Southington, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles says stricter driving laws for teens appear to be protecting them better.

The DMV found that after the state implemented the rules seven years ago, there’s been a 64 percent drop in deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers.

The state’s graduated driver’s license program is one of the strictest in the country.

In Connecticut, 16- and 17-year-olds with a learner’s permit are not allowed to have passengers, unless it’s a licensed instructor or a parent.  An adult at least 20 years old, with a license for at least four consecutive years, may also give driving lessons.

In Tuesday’s deadly Southington crash, the DMV says the driver, Annie Olender, 16, only had a learner’s permit, and Olivia Fusco, 14, was her passenger.  They both died in the crash.

“At the end of the day it’s human decision making and people making certain choices,” DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala pointed out.

Ayala said statistics show more young people are choosing to skip the rules associated with a graduated driver’s license and wait until they turn 18 to pursue a driver’s license.

Ayala believes that age group needs protections as well, and a new report out on Wednesday indicates the DMV is researching how impactful extending the GDL laws to 18- to 21-year-olds would be.

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