On April 12th Dr. Lahila Carina Barzola represented the coalition in delivering safe driving messages and principles of the GDL to students and parents. Over 600 participants were engaged at the fair.
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Please support HB 330. IT will save lives!
February 14, 2017
The Honorable Kumar P. Barve The Honorable Dana M. Stein
Chair Vice Chair
House Environment and Transportation Committee House Environment and Transportation Committee
House Office Building, Room 251 House Office Building, Room 251
6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401 6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
Dear Chairman Barve and Vice Chairman Stein:
As representatives of the leading public health and safety organizations, we urge you to support House Bill (HB) 330, legislation to improve safety for novice teen drivers in Maryland. This measure will upgrade the current graduated driver licensing (GDL) law by strengthening the intermediate phase nighttime restriction provision to begin at 10 p.m. instead of the current start time at midnight. This vital change will better protect novice teen drivers in Maryland by reducing their exposure to high risk situations.
The timing of this legislation is critical considering that in 2015, 21 drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 were killed on Maryland roads, a 75 percent increase from 2014. Over the last 10 years (2006-2015), 306 drivers ages 16-20 were killed and nearly 33,000 injured on Maryland roads. According to the Maryland Highway Safety Plan 2017, there are fewer novice drivers, ages 16–20, licensed in Maryland than any other age group and yet their fatality rate is higher than all other age groups. Over 13,000 young-driver-involved crashes occur on Maryland roads each year. It is necessary to expand and strengthen the protections of Maryland’s GDL program to reduce these preventable tragedies.
Studies have found that nighttime driving restrictions reduced crashes among newly licensed teens, with higher reductions associated with nighttime restrictions starting at 10:00 p.m. or earlier. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which analyzed nighttime restrictions nationwide found that between 2009 – 2014, among 16 and 17 year old drivers, 57 percent of all nighttime crashes occurred before midnight. The study concluded that nighttime restrictions beginning at 12:00 a.m. or later provide minimal protection, and that states should consider updating their nighttime restriction coverage to include earlier nighttime hours.
In addition to saving lives and preventing injuries, GDL laws save states money. Nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the economic cost of police-reported crashes involving drivers between 15 and 20 years old is $40.8 billion. In Maryland, all motor vehicle crashes cost the state nearly $4.5 billion annually (NHTSA).
Furthermore, the American public overwhelmingly supports GDL programs. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) survey found that parents favor GDL laws that are as strict as or even stricter than currently exist in any state. Almost three quarters (74 percent) of teens approve of a comprehensive law that incorporates the key elements of GDL including nighttime and passenger restrictions. In addition to HB 330, we urge you to consider further improving Maryland’s GDL law by raising the age to qualify for a learner’s permit to 16 years, and upgrading the passenger restriction to primary enforcement.
Last June, after the horrific crash that killed three Montgomery County teens, The Baltimore Sun addressed Maryland’s teen driving law and its missing or insufficient components including the nighttime restriction. The piece, Safer teen drivers, noted that it is “unfortunate that a particularly horrible multiple-fatality is required to get lawmakers focused on traffic safety, but a measure of public outrage and a call for accountability seems to be what's necessary,” adding that, “the incremental improvements would surely help — and without much sacrifice on the part of teens or their parents, particularly compared to what's at stake.”
We urge you to support and advance HB 330. Thank you for your consideration.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety