Restricting Teen Drivers

JONESBORO, AR -- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. The national teen driving statistics keep getting worse and Arkansas Legislators are taking steps to help change that fact here in the natural state.

It's already passed in the Arkansas Senate and is now headed to the House. The bill focuses on drivers under the age of 18 and would ban them from being on the road from 11 P.M. to 5 A.M.

"They shouldn't be out partying till 1:00 at night anyway. That's something that would never happen at my house, I'd be in so much trouble," says Kelsey York, a teen driver from Trumann.

But Chase Holmean, another teen driver, says he disagrees.

"It's kind of ridiculous because I know most kids my age don't even have curfews and my curfew is like 12 or 12:30. So for them to pass a law saying you can't be out on the roads at 11, it kind of doesn't really make sense," says Holmean.

The proposed bill also would prohibit teen drivers from talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel; something Kelsey York thinks would be a great law.

"My parents tell me not to talk on my cell phone because it does distract you and it causes a lot of wrecks. My step-sister was in a wreck because of that," says York.

The national statistic shows that more than half of teen drivers use their cell phones while driving, and 47 percent said that having passengers also can distract them.

This leads to the last part of the bill. Teen drivers under the age of 18 would only be allowed to have one other person in the vehicle.

"That's kind of strict for just one person. I think as long as there's enough for seatbelts and everyone's wearing seatbelts, that's fine," says Tyna Cravens, a teen driver from Jonesboro.

Although the new laws may seem quite strict to some teens, they will come with a few exceptions.

"If you have brothers and sisters that you need to take to work and stuff like that. There's always a situation where you can give someone a ride somewhere," says Chase Holmean.

The bill would allow young drivers to be an exception to the law if they are on road for work, school, or an emergency. It also wouldn't prohibit teens from driving with more than one sibling in the car and all this would be exempt if they are accompanied by someone 21 or older.

The House Public Transportation Committee advanced the bill, which will soon be up for a vote on the House floor.