Lifesaving idea for new law? New age restrictions proposed for CA drivers

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Car crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens, and a suggested new state law, AB 63, aims to cut down on them. (KFSN)

New age restrictions could keep even college kids from driving with friends in their cars.

In California, 16 and 17-year-olds already have to drive for a year before they can drive with friends and without adults, but the same dangers they pose to themselves and other drivers also apply to drivers up to the age of 20.

No alcohol and no drugs contributed to the death of 17-year-old Sierra Valenzuela last May. But a teenage driver crashed into a guide wire, two trees and a fence, killing Valenzuela in the back seat. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens, and a suggested new state law, AB 63, aims to cut down on them.

"Just because you're 18 and you still have no experience with an instructor behind the wheel, you're not going to be better than a 16 or 17-year-old," Karen Lanier with Traffic Depot said.

The bill would extend the age for provisional licenses to 21 instead of 18, forcing them to get driver training and only drive in groups when adults are around.

Pheng Lee, 17, is getting ready to get his license and says he understands the thought process.

"Being very attentive when you're driving is very important," he said. "And when you have friends inside the car, most likely you won't be attentive. You're distracted."

But AB 63 could cause trouble for some older teens like it would've for Fresno State sophomore Tony Guerra.

"I'm one of the few ones that actually drives with my roommates and my family back home too," he said. "So, I'm the one taking them everywhere, so it'd be really difficult if we want to car pool and we can't, it's going to be hard."

CDC statistics show kids between 15 and 19 represent seven percent of the population but 10 percent of crash deaths. And when you break it down by the mile, teenagers are three times more likely to die than drivers who are 20 and older.

"If you're operating, crashing is the number one cause of death in teenagers," Jon Lanier said. "You should have training behind it."

The bill is still a long way from becoming law at this point. But if it does, there would still be some exceptions, like letting kids drive after hours if they have to for school.

They can also drive around with other underage family members if they have a signed note from their parents.

You can read more about AB-63 here:

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