The onset of COVID-19 has changed everything, how we work, how we enjoy our time away from work, and how we interact with each other.
It has also cost us the ability, at least temporarily, to miss many occasions that matter to us. For our teenagers, this means missing traditional high school graduations, postponing proms, not having their final season on the athletic field.
Like mothers everywhere, we understand the concern lawmakers have for our young people, and appreciate their efforts to limit the impact.
However, as two mothers who have been forever effected by drunk or distracted driving, one effort we can not support is one to allow new drivers to obtain their driver’s license without taking their road test due to the closure of the DMV.
We are more concerned about their ability to drive safely and responsibly than their ability to meet a milestone as others before them.
That is why we oppose S2528. Novice drivers need this road test to help ensure they have learned how to manage a two-ton vehicle that too often becomes a weapon in the hands of inexperienced drivers. And right now, we are more worried than ever.
Perhaps you are unaware that we are in the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” Just look at some of the facts:
- • Motor Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.
- • Teens have the highest crash rate of any age group.
- • An average 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer, an increase of 26% compared with the other months of the year.
- • 60% of teen crashes today are caused by distracted driving.
- • Surprisingly, the top distraction for teens is other passengers, accounting for 15% of teen driver crashes, compared to 12 % caused by texting or talking on a cell phone.
- • For every 100,000 Americans under the age of 21, 1.2 people were killed in drunk driving fatalities in 2015.
- • “Not only are teens themselves more likely to die in car crashes, they also have the highest rates of crash involvement resulting in the deaths of others, including passengers, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles.” – Newsday
Instead of relaxing the requirements of obtaining a driver’s license, we need to ensure that we have provided our teens with every tool available that would make their driving experience a safer one. If our teens are driving safer then it impacts each and every one of us who travel on our roadways.
Candace Lightner is the Founder of We Save Lives and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Pam O'Donnell is a Bayonne resident, an Advocate for We Save Lives, and Founder of the Catch You Later Foundation