State Police Considering Asking For Tighter Restrictions on Teen Drivers

JULY 27, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:00 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Arkansas State Police want legislators to consider passing a law that would put limits on teen driving. The reason, a five-year-old program designed to curb teen driving fatalities doesn't appear to be working. In 2001, 99 drivers age 16-20 died on Arkansas highways. Three years later in 2004, that number was slightly higher at 101.

Arkansas State Police Director Steve Dozier stated in a meeting with state legislators Wednesday that the new system adopted in 2001 is not decreasing the number of fatalities among young drivers, as hoped.

Local state legislator J.R. Rogers says teenage driving concerns hits close to home. He lost his son at the young age of 19 in a car accident.

"Anything that I can do as a legislator to prevent someone else from having to going through the same tragedy that I went through, of course I would support," says State Representative J.R. Rogers.

Some of the things the state police recommended for legislators to consider during next year's session included restricting the hours young drivers can be on the road and, or limiting the number of passengers they can carry.

"If that is something that statistics show is causing us to lose a lot more of our youth, then most certainly I would be for some changes to make a difference," says Rogers.

Regardless of what some legislators or police officers might say, some underage drivers feel they're being judged as a whole, and not by their individual abilities.

"I think it's very unfair. I think that there are teenagers that are more responsible and should let more privileges than others," says Jessica Smith, a local teenage driver.

Caleb Collier, another teenage driver, feels that if restrictions are placed on the times teenagers can drive, it will be more trouble than it's worth.

"Just because they'll have their license and they'll get out and drive around, even though it's a law not to," says Caleb Collier, a teenage driver.

But when asked about the other restriction regarding a limit on the number of passengers a teenage driver could carry, he felt differently.

"If a cop sees a lot of people in one car and knows there's not that many seatbelts and stuff, there wouldn't be that many people hurt if there was a wreck," says Collier.

We contacted the Arkansas State Police Thursday, who stated that the recommendations are still in the consideration phase. They will hold a news conference in august to discuss more research and options.