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Changes Proposed for Youngest Drivers
AUGUSTA--Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky wants young drivers to earn their driver's licenses one step at a time. To achieve this goal, he will be proposing changes in the driver licensing process that would establish a graduated driver licensing system for new drivers under 18 years old. The graduated licensing system will place certain driving restrictions at each level, allowing for the teen to gain experience in lower risk situations. By successfully completing each level, the teen driver can graduate to the next, less restrictive phase of the licensing process.
"I have been profoundly concerned with the number of fatalities that occurred in 2002. As the year progressed, we were losing an average of one young person every 7 days on Maine's roadways," said Secretary Gwadosky. "I am convinced that adoption of the graduated licensing restrictions will save lives and reduce injuries," stated Secretary Gwadosky. "I am anxious to begin working with the Maine Legislature on this important safety issue."
The graduated licensing system would have three stages--supervised learner's permit; an intermediate license limiting unsupervised driving to low risk driving times; and an unrestricted license.
Secretary Gwadosky also indicated that his department would review and make appropriate changes to rules governing the driver's education curriculum and road test requirements.
Tragically, in addition to suffering the loss of one young person per week, an average of 60 young people are injured in car crashes during that same 7 day period. In fact, the 16 to 24 year old age group represents 33% of those hospitalized from head injuries sustained in car crashes.
Over the past six weeks, Secretary Gwadosky met with a variety of groups to discuss the issues surrounding driver licensing requirements for younger drivers. He sought insight from many individuals and groups concerned with the safety of young drivers. Secretary Gwadosky met with the Maine Driver Education Association's (MEDEA) Board, the Legislative Youth Advisory Council, the Maine Transportation Safety Coalition, District Attorneys, members of the law enforcement community and the Bureau of Motor Vehicle Driver License Examiners. He also visited several high schools, including an interactive audio-visual forum at Maranacook Community High School that linked students at Foxcroft Academy, Erskine Academy, Hall-Dale High School, Mountain Valley High School and Lewiston High School.