MVA gives teen drivers license, label Magnetic yellow sign on car frame or bumper says 'ROOKIE DRIVER'

August 05, 1998|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

Steve Labuda, proud parent of one of the state's newest drivers, spent the time as his daughter snaked through the lines at the Motor Vehicle Administration in Glen Burnie yesterday reading posters urging him to slap a foot-long yellow "ROOKIE DRIVER" on the back of his teen driver's car.

"Yeah, we're going to get her one of those," he said as his daughter, Lindsey, rounded the bend closest to him. "It identifies her as a new driver. Maybe people will notice her and give her a break."

Lindsey, 15, rolled her eyes, shifted her weight from her left foot to her right and sighed, "Well, we have a blue car, and I'll have a big yellow sticker on the back, so yeah, Dad, I think they'll spot me."

He was undeterred. "Smile, Lindsey," Labuda said, as she went to have her picture taken.

A week into a voluntary monthlong pilot program to brand new drivers, MVA officials said the signs -- flat magnets that snap onto a car's frame or bumper -- have gotten a glowing reception, albeit largely from parents who see the signs as an additional safety measure.

The idea, MVA officials say, is that other drivers will see the signs and drive less aggressively, giving new drivers a little room. The program, modeled after some in Europe, is the first in the United States, said MVA spokesman Richard Scher. If officials continue to get positive responses, they will consider making the signs nTC mandatory while teens drive with a learner's permit and practice before applying for a driver's license.

The program is part of the MVA's yearlong effort to toughen new-driver laws and restrictions.

This year, the General Assembly voted to extend the time a new driver must practice with a learner's permit from two weeks to four months, and lengthened the provisional driving period from 12 months to 18 months after a teen-age driver gets a license.

Provisional drivers cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m.

Some teen-agers said they would give the signs a try.

"I wouldn't want to, but I'll use it," said Carla Martin, 16, waiting in line with her mother, Carol, for her provisional license.

Sam Silva, 15, wasn't taking any chances. He steered his father, also named Sam, between the Rookie Driver posters, striking up conversation at critical moments.

But an hour later, the two emerged into the parking lot, and Sam the younger threw up his arms in exasperation. "When you pay for [the permit], they give them to you," he said.

Pub Date: 8/05/98

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