In 2007, 153 teen drivers were killed in traffic accidents on Indiana roadways, but new laws taking effect on July 1 could potentially change that.
First-time drivers who get a probationary drivers license on or after July 1, will not be allowed to drive with passengers during the first 180 days after obtaining their license unless accompanied by a licensed instructor, an individual, who is 25 or older, with a valid Indiana drivers license, or a parent, guardian or step-parent who is 21 years or older. However, they will be allowed to drive with their own child, sibling or spouse during the hours allowed by law.
Some of the other new restrictions include:
* Drivers under age 18 may not use any type of telecommunication device while driving, with the exception of making a 911 call,
* For 180 days after getting their license, under age drivers may not drive between 10 p.m.-5 a.m.,
* After the 180 days, under age drivers may not drive during Sunday through Thursday, 11 p.m.-5 a.m., on Friday and Saturday, 1-5 a.m., and
* Underage drivers are allowed to drive any time if they are traveling to or from work, school and/or a religious event or if accompanied by an individual, who is 25 or older, with a valid driver's license.
Indiana will also implement new Graduated Drivers Licensing requirements for probationary drivers under the age of 18.
In a proactive approach to help educate teens about the importance of safe driving practices, the Governor's Council on Impaired and Dangerous Driving and the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) are working with parents, teachers, legislators and traffic safety advocates around the state to increase awareness about teen driver safety and empower students with the resources they need to drive responsibly on Indiana roadways.
One of the greatest risk factors teen drivers face is the number of passengers in the vehicle. Studies have confirmed that with the presence of just one passenger, teens are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Few teens recognize the increased risk of a crash while passengers are present in the vehicle.
One way young drivers can become better equipped to handle the road is through graduated driver licensing (GDL.) GDL systems address the high risks new drivers face by allowing them to get their initial driving experience under low-risk conditions. Parents and guardians can use the basic principles of GDL to help teen drivers gain experience under low-risk conditions.