CONTACT: Chris Cooper, 860-524-7313
November 28, 2007

Governor M. Jodi Rell announced today the creation of a special task force to examine laws related to teen driving and to explore new ways to raise awareness among teens and their parents about critical safety issues following the accident-related deaths of seven teens in the last four months.

            “These accidents and their resulting injuries are tragic. Even one death is horrific and ripples through the lives of friends, families and communities,” Governor Rell said. “We need to find new strategies for dealing with this issue. While curfews and passenger restriction laws have produced a drop in accidents and injuries among teen drivers in Connecticut since tougher laws were enacted nearly four years ago, fatal accidents remain a serious problem for these drivers and we must take more aggressive action.”

            In the last six months in Connecticut, four teens were killed in one crash and three were killed in another. In 2006, Connecticut teens between 16 and 17 year-olds had 4,942 accidents, down slightly from 5,118 in 2005. However, fatalities remained nearly the same for each year with 14 in 2006 and 13 in 2005. National driving statistics pertaining to teenagers’ accidents, injuries and deaths all identify speed, recklessness and failure to pay attention to safety precautions as major contributors.

             The task force will be comprised of representatives from the fields of law enforcement, insurance, medicine, driver education and school administration as well as officials from the state departments of Motor Vehicles, Public Health, Transportation and Public Safety. In addition, parents who have lost teen drivers in fatal accidents will be included on the task force.

             Governor Rell named Commissioner Robert M. Ward of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Dr. J. Robert Galvin, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, as co-chairmen of the task force. They will help direct the task force in creating short-term and long-term strategies to address the safety and law enforcement issues.

             “There is a clear need for a re-examination of requirements for driving, how we  – state regulators, law enforcement, education officials and parents – stress the critical issues of safety and make that message effective,” Commissioner Ward said.

             “This is a critical issue because the loss of a child is never acceptable,” Commissioner Galvin said. “We know that education and awareness programs work and we must continually strive to make our communities safer through a combination of education, awareness and new laws.”

 The task for will be charged with creating a coordinated effort that takes a multi-pronged approach including:  

  • New strategies of awareness and a framework for making the strategies work effectively.
  • A re-examination of certain penalties associated with violations with which teens are frequently charged.
  • The creation of a partnership of interested parties statewide that work in targeted and different ways to broadcast the same message about teen driving safety to both parents and teens.

             The Governor charged the group with establishing a timeframe and developing recommendations. The timeframe could include both short-term plans – immediate approaches recommended in about two months – and long-term suggestions that are produced in about six months.

 “Accidents and deaths involving teen drivers are especially difficult to accept because many are preventable,” Commissioner Galvin said. “Working with our many partners, I believe we can bring new, effective approaches to this problem.”

             In a related matter, The DMV and DPH also recently began work with The Connecticut Teen Driver Safety Partnership coalition at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. It is enlisting family and pediatric physicians statewide in teen driver safety awareness when the teens and their parents come in for office visits. The group will be providing doctors and other health professionals with materials to distribute to patients.