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Senator Dyson To Reintroduce Teen Driver Safety Bill

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on September 27, 2004:

Senator Dyson After a weekend of carnage on Montgomery County roads in which five teenage drivers were killed in separate accidents, Senator Roy Dyson (D-Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s) said “enough is enough” and added that now is the time for the General Assembly to “save lives and pass my bill.”

The bill Senator Dyson is referring to is one he has submitted to the General Assembly for more than 10 years only to see it die, first in a Senate committee then after passage there the past two years only to watch it die in the House of Delegates for “reasons that just don’t make any sense,” he said.

Senator Dyson’s teen driver safety bill would prohibit newly licensed drivers from transporting other passengers for the first 180 days after they are given the privilege to drive. The bill’s only exception to the 180-day requirement would allow teens to transport only immediate family members.

“That’s it -- 180 days,” Senator Dyson said. “A teen driver who has just acquired their license should not be immediately distracted by other passengers, mainly other teens in the car the minute they get the privilege to drive. They should have that time frame to learn how to drive and not be distracted by their friends.

Senator Dyson said he has broad support for his legislation. Last year’s bill was co-sponsored by Senators Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Jennie Forehand, Gloria Lawlah, Sandra Schrader, Ida Ruben, Delores Kelley, Robert Hooper, George Della, Edward DeGrange, Sr. and Brian Frosh. Senator Frosh is the chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee which passed the bill out of its committee last year. The bill passed in the Senate, but died in the House Environmental Matters Committee.

“The National Transportation Safety Board, the Motor Vehicle Administration, Triple A, the Maryland State Police and numerous sheriffs throughout the state and other safety organizations have consistently come out and supported this legislation. I have introduced many bills during my three terms in the General Assembly Session. None has almost universal support among my constituents. Why this is a problem for some of my colleagues has never been explained to me. Everybody tells me this is a good idea. I don’t get why it hasn’t passed.

Senator Dyson said he would immediately seek co-sponsors for his legislation and pre-file the bill so “that it is one of the first bills that is heard in the General Assembly when it convenes in January, 2005. I’m going to work this bill as hard as I’ve ever worked it for these teenagers who are putting themselves at grave risk because the law allows them to do so.”

Senator Dyson said he was “quite frankly outraged” over the tragic incidents that occurred this past weekend in Montgomery County where five teens were killed in three separate accidents.

Saturday, two teenagers were killed and a third seriously injured when their vehicle slammed into a metal light pole. The passengers were not immediate relatives.

In another crash, two other teens, were killed when their car crashed into trees.

The third crash involved two teens, both 16 and not immediately related, killed the passenger while the driver was seriously injured.

Police have said that in one of the accidents, the teens were drag racing with other teens and that this is commonplace in that area.

“I know in my heart that if my bill had passed the first year I had introduced it, many of these horror stories such as the ones we are reading about in the newspaper, seeing on the television or hearing about on the radio the past few days would have been prevented,” Senator Dyson said.

“I don’t want parents to have to go to funerals of their youngsters. I don’t want their classmates to have to consult grief counselors and even then have that hole in their hearts that they will never see their friends again. This carnage -- and let’s face it -- that’s what it is -- has to stop. This is happening everywhere in the state. I introduced this bill because of a death involving teen drivers in St. Mary’s County. Now, as the Montgomery County incident this weekend shows, this is an epidemic around the state.”

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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