New Rules for Teen Drivers in New York

Teen drivers already face a lot of challenges as they drive on New York's crowded roads and interstate highways. And thanks to new laws that went into effect in February, New York teen drivers now face two new obstacles on their way to the road.

First, teens must have a minimum of 50 hours on the road before being allowed to take the road test portion of the driver's exam. Previously, only 20 hours were required.

Second, if the teen is between the ages of 16 and 18, he or she must wait six months after receiving a learner's permit before being allowed to take the road test. After passing his or her road test, a teen receives a junior license, which comes with a special set of restrictions. Specifically, teens with junior licenses may drive:

  • Without a supervising driver between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Without a supervising driver between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. only directly between home and work or home and a school course.
  • Between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. in other circumstances only when under the direct supervision of parent, guardian or person in loco parentis, provided that the supervising driver is over 21 years-of-age and has a valid license to drive. The only passenger allowed in the seat next to the driver is the supervising driver.

Additionally, teens with junior licenses may not drive with more than one passenger under the age of 21 unless they are members of the teen's immediate family. When teen drivers turn 18, they can receive a senior license, which allows driving without restrictions.

Why the tough new laws? Safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than a third of all teen deaths come from motor vehicle accidents. In New York State, 93 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed during 2007 in automobile accidents. In those crashes, an additional 143 people, many of them teens and many of them passengers of the teen driver, were also killed.

And while there are many factors that go into traffic accidents – for example, a full quarter of all teen car accidents in 2006 involved alcohol – the extra learning and practice time, plus a little patience, will make the difference.

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