Thursday, July 31, 2008

New State Teen Driving Laws

Politics In Color

California and Washington state will follow the lead of a handful of other states and prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones while on the road, but will allow headsets. California teens can’t use their cell phones at all when driving. Anyone who violates the new laws risks a $76 fine for the first offense in California, and a $124 fine in Washington. Other states with similar laws are Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Utah as well as Washington, D.C.

In the first six months of holding a new license, Arizona teens can’t drive between midnight and 5 a.m. and cannot have more than one other teen in the car who is not a relative. After similar laws in Connecticut and Minnesota take effect Aug. 1, only three remaining states will have no restrictions on newly licensed drivers: Arkansas, Kansas and North Dakota.

New Connecticut Teen Driving Laws

Connecticut Post

The following are changes in state laws affecting 16- and 17-year-old drivers beginning Friday.


  • Required for 16- and 17-year-olds, vision and knowledge test required.
  • Must complete an eight-hour safe driving course and 40 hours of practice driving with a licensed instructor or person at least 20 years old.
  • No other passengers for first three months. After three months, may have immediate family as passengers.
  • Must have permit for 180 days before applying for a license (20 days with completed driver training course).


  • No passengers first three months except parents, legal guardian, licensed driving instructor, or a person at least 20 years old, licensed for at least four years (with no suspensions).
  • During the next three months, may have immediate family members as passengers.


  • No cell phones (including hands-free devices) or mobile electronic devices while driving.
  • No driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for employment, school, religious activities or for a medical emergency.
  • Each passenger must wear a seat belt.


  • Immediate 48-hour suspension for 16- and 17-year-old drivers for violating driving restrictions, driving 20 mph or more over posted limit, driving under the influence, driving recklessly or racing a motor vehicle on a public highway.
  • Police will seize the license and it will automatically be suspended for 48 hours. In addition, police are authorized to remove the vehicle from the scene.
  • In order to regain possession of the license after 48 hours, the teen and their parent or guardian must go to the police station and sign a written statement acknowledging license has been returned.
  • After conviction of a first offense, license suspension ranges from 30 days to six months, depending on the seriousness of the violation. Suspensions increase for all second and subsequent offenses.
  • After suspension, driver must pay a $125 license restoration fee.

New Minnesota Teen Driving Laws

Courtesy Pioneer Press 7/30/08

Hey, teenage drivers, traffic texters and concertgoers, there's something for each of you in the new Minnesota laws. A host of new laws take effect Friday, and that means Minnesotans must make adjustments. Some will be large, some small. Read on for a selection of the new statutes and how they might affect you:

At The Wheel

If you send or read text messages or e-mails while you are driving, stop! Such multi-tasking will now be a petty misdemeanor.

If you are a teen with a new driver's license, for the first six months of driving you can have only one passenger — unless a parent or guardian is along. You can't drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless you have a licensed passenger age 25 or older or are driving to or from a school event or work. You can't have more than three passengers younger than 20 unless you have a parent or guardian along. .....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dangers of Newspaper Forum's

There is an old saying that "it is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt". Thanks to modern technological advances, the anonymity of the web offers anyone with a thought, an avenue to spew their wit and wisdom for others to read. Some may well think this site is nothing but, and this great country offers you the right to have that opinion. This webmaster would like to go on record as saying that those who feel it is necessary to start passing judgment in media forum's about teen crashes, are similar to the hit and run driver, who cowardly flees a scene after leaving devastation in their wake. Family members, reeling in shock and grief, do not need to read the speculation and opinion's by anonymous parties on why their child perished. You have the right to write anything you want, but class dictates there is a time, and a place to express these type's of opinion's .... and some are best left to ones self. Family members - forum's on media sites are a place where some of the most callous and heartless people, hiding behind the protective anonymity their fictitious screen name offers, will spew some of the most insensitive garbage possible. Do yourself a favor. Avoid newspaper forum's.

Quoting statistics

Be careful quoting statistics from any website, including this one. Verify what you can. Once something is in print, no matter how erroneous, it will be repeated and soon become accepted as fact.

For instance, which of these statements appearing on government or news media websites, are true, and which have been "fabricated"? 1. A teenager is killed in a car crash every 64.5 minutes. 2. Teenage drunk driving is the cause of one quarter of all motor vehicle accidents 3. One teen is killed in the United States every 60 minutes because of teen drunk driving. 4. In 2005, approximately 3467 teens were killed and 281000 more injured. 5. According to historical data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in eight teens is likely to drive after drinking alcohol this holiday season, and 30 percent of American teens this month will ride with a driver who has been drinking alcohol. Additionally, statistics show that in 2003, 27 percent of 16- to 20-year-old passenger vehicle drivers fatally injured in crashes had blood alcohol levels of 0.08 percent or more, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 6. In 2005, approximately 3,467 teens were killed and 281,000 more suffered injuries due to driving under the influence. 7. Teenage drunk driving is responsible for about one in every four motor vehicle accidents. 8. Every year, more American teenagers die in car wrecks than any other way. Nationally, that number was 5,610 fatalities in 2004. 9. A teenager is injured in a car crash every 55 seconds. A teenager is killed in a car crash every 6.5 minutes.

(It is quite obvious that #3 & #9, although widely used, are not possibly true, using the figures in #4, which is a government published figure, or #8.. #1 might have been true years ago, but with 8760 hours in a year, you can do the math. #6 blames every teen fatality recorded in drunk driving!! #7 is just absurd. The message to teens is real ... please don't cloud it with bogus 'facts'. If you expect teens to drive like adults, respect them with the truth. And if you find something wrong on our site, please let us know. We don't need to make up facts to make teens dieing in car crashes worse than they already are.)

Fatality Road Map

A new site went live today, or at least tried. It got so much media attention that the site spent much of the day unreachable. In fact, now that I have a chance to try, I am unable to get on and see their map. When it works, it is supposed to provide a Google map that allows users to check which routes experience the most deadly traffic crashes.

When it works, you can find it at SafeRoad Maps If I can ever get on, I may do a follow-up report.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stories in the US media

Associated Press
Montana town loses 4 teens, their athletic hopes

Denton, Mont. (AP) — Here in rural Montana, the long roads stretch to the horizon over rolling hills covered with wheat. Drivers casually lift a hand off the wheel to greet oncoming drivers, whether they recognize the car or not.Teenagers start driving as early as 15, because it's usually a long way to where you want to go. And they almost always play high school sports, mostly because there is little else to do in a small town.

So on July 19, four boys piled into a car to play in a summer basketball tournament in a neighboring town. On the way, the car crashed, rolled and burned. Police say no speeding or dangerous driving was involved, and they still aren't sure why the car caught fire.

The wreck killed brothers Kale and Kade Phelps, as well as fellow players Jace Jelinek and Dayne Heble. The oldest was 17, the youngest 14. They were 10 percent of Denton High's student body.

Charlotte Observer
3 Students Killed In Stanly Wreck

Three Albemarle High School students were killed and another teen was injured in a two-vehicle, high-speed wreck late Thursday night in Stanly County. A spokeswoman for the Stanly County Schools says the three were members of the school's football team and were rising seniors.

Tevis Swaringen was driving the car. Justin Cowen was sitting in the front passenger seat and Andrico Lilly was in the back seat. All three were 17 and died at the scene of the crash on N.C. 138 near Kimrey Road, about three miles south of Albemarle.

The collision happened about 11:45 p.m., and troopers said speed was a factor. The Highway patrol estimated that the car with all the victims was traveling about 80-85 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. The car took a curve too fast and overcorrected, causing the accident. Neither weather nor alcohol were factors.

Richmond Times-Dispatch
Two Teens Die In Car Crash

Two Williamsburg teenagers died early yesterday in a single-car crash in James City County, police said. Thomas B. Karafa, 18, the driver, and Robert P. McCormack, 16, the passenger, were traveling north on Centerville Road, less than a mile south of Jolly Pond Road, when the car ran off the left side of the road and struck a drainage ditch at 2:30 a.m., police said. They died at the scene. They were not wearing seat belts, police said.

Fox 8
Combined Funeral Mass for 2 Strongsville Teens

The funeral for 18-year-old Samantha Archer and her boyfriend 16-year-old Marco Dadante was held at St. Joseph Church, located at 12700 Pearl Rd. in Strongsville. Following the mass, both Archer and Dadante were buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. A seemingly endless stream of friends and family, stunned by the tragic loss, lined up at viewing hours Thursday from 3 to 11 p.m. at St. Joseph Church.

The accident took place Sunday in Hinkley. Samantha, a recent graduate of Strongsville High School, and Marco, a Strongsville High student, were heading westbound on Bellus Road in Archer's 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse. According to police, a vehicle heading eastbound, driven by 21-year-old ----- of Hinckley, went left of center and struck Archer's vehicle head on.

Three E's of Reducing Teen Traffic Related Deaths

Part One - National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark V. Rosenker told the Association for Safe International Road Travel on June 16th that an emphasis on the three E's of traffic safety, education, enforcement and engineering solutions would further reduce traffic fatalities. So how are we doing in Missouri?

#1 Education. The responsibility of teaching teens to drive in Missouri is, in most school districts, left to the parents. Once a mandatory class in many high school's, most school districts have eliminated driver's training because of budget restraints. This has left the responsibility of training with parents, who must either train them on there own, or to pay a driving school to do it. Many parents will confess they are ill equipped to perform what can be a harrowing experience. As more hours have been added, with recent changes to the graduated drivers license, more requirements have been put on parents. As one person put it in an AAA release, we require more hours of training to cut hair or clean teeth, than we do to drive a car. It would be easy just to say we need to return the class to our high schools, but that is only half of the story. I graduated in the last 70's from a then mid size suburb high school. I do not remember if the driver's training class was mandatory at the time, or not, but I did take it. And in hindsight, it was kind of a joke.

Taught by a high school sports coach, possibly as a requirement at the time, that coaches may have had to be teachers, it was quite obvious the coach/teacher had no desire to be there. Behind the wheel training was limited to three 45 minute classes, time split with two other teens, in an especially equipped car where the coach had his own brake to push, if needed. Much of this incredibly limited driving time, was training to pass the most difficult part of the driver's test, parallel parking. A task I was able to master quickly (I took my test in a station wagon) and a driving skill I have been called on to use once in the 32 years since. And for those of us waiting our day to drive with the teacher, the class was no more than an unsupervised study hall. So I reiterate, just simply returning driver's education to the school systems, is only part of the story. To properly train teens, not only should we make driver's education a mandatory class, but we must find passionate teachers who truly want to make a difference. Would you rather your teen learn from the football coach, who might have a degree in teaching, or a certified driving instructor? Or an ex-cop, who knows what it is like to knock on a door at night and deliver the most dreaded of messages to unsuspecting parents?

How do we pay for it? Well I guess we can forget all that "the lottery will pay for all our schools needs" nonsense. An idea for consideration. Besides families and friends, who has the most to gain/lose in traffic crashes? Even a fender bender can run into thousands of dollars in damages. And who pays for this? Insurance companies. Has anyone considered asking the insurance companies to fund staff for school systems? We live in a give and take world, so obviously they have to get something out of it. Offer them compulsory attendance backed by the state, a majority voice in setting up the training, testing, and certification, although them to hire and train their instructors, with schools allowed to run criminal history checks. It would not be an independent insurance company, but a consortium of all insurance companies selling auto insurance in the state. Schools would provide classroom space, and scheduling allocation, and be offered proper credit for the time the teens are in this class, pursuant to any other educational requirements made by the state. Obviously, the school must be given some limited control, it is they who inevitably must answer to the parents. The schools must also be offered full immunity from any liability involved with this class. There are other numerous issues, but given the proper motivation, these issues should be easily worked thru. Everybody could get something out of it if they kept teen safety as the primary goal. You may not have a teen driver in your family, but I can guarantee if you are driving on Missouri roads, teen drivers are passing you in the oncoming lane each and every trip. Want them to stay in their lane?

If the politicians, educators, and insurance companies started talking about it today, we could see drivers ed back in our schools by 2010. Then again, not too sure how politicians, educators and insurance companies get along in this state, so it would probably be easier just to forget the whole idea. What are we talking here? The life of a couple hundred teens each year?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why the blog?

I have been operating Operation Stop for nearly 3 years now and occasionally, I come across news items that I would like to comment on, or just didn't quite warrant making it on the web site. Here we will discuss things like the "politics" behind car crashes. We might look at incidents in greater detail, if we feel it can assist in the overall discussion. And we might address other issues of interest to Missouri teens, or Missourians in general. Much of what is expressed on this blog might be classified as personal opinion, and personal opinions are much like armpits. Everyone has a couple, they serve no real purpose, and only we think our own don't stink.

It also offers readers an opportunity to participate. You are free to post comments, as long as it is done respectfully ... both to the forum, and to the families and friends of victims. These people are hurting and do not care what you, or I might think of why their loved one died. If you are posting in reference to a particular crash, please note that it is our policy to name only the deceased in a crash, and to NOT name others that might be hurt or responsible. While these names might be public record, it is our own policy to keep these names off the site, and this blog.

Please drive like your life depends on it - because it does!!

By taking credit, you accept responsibility

I recently read a newspaper article from Southeast Missouri, where an officer with the Highway Patrol was quoted as stating his department's strong enforcement was responsible for the decrease in deaths over the last holiday weekend. Traffic fatalities are down in most parts of the state, thanks to the concerted efforts of thousands of law enforcement officers, transportation workers, traffic safety engineers, vehicle safety engineers, emergency workers, the list goes on and on. This year, the decline is dramatic in most states thanks in a large part, to the increased price of gas. Less miles are being driven nationwide, according to every study published in the last few months. Only two other years have seen such a steep decline in traffic fatalities ... during the oil embargo and the two year period when states were required to raise the drinking age to 21.

The Missouri Highway Patrol is an outstanding organization and is to be credited for their part in the reduction in fatalities. But anyone taking credit when the numbers are favorable, must assume the responsibility when they are less so.

Last Lecture

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch gave his last university lecture in Sept 2007, before a packed auditorium. In his moving presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own personal goals. At the time, Professor Pausch knew he was dying from cancer, and on July 25th, he passed away. One of the most inspiring lectures you will ever hear - video here