Senate passes bill restricting teen drivers

March 08, 2003|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

Newly licensed teen-age drivers won't be able to transport their teen-age friends for the first six months that they will be driving under a bill passed by the Maryland Senate yesterday.

Supporters say the measure would minimize the many distractions for new drivers and would reduce crashes.

"The purpose of this bill is to save lives," Sen. Brian E. Frosh, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, told his colleagues during debate this week. He pointed to statistics showing accidents increase as the number of young passengers increases.

"The statistics are overwhelming," said Sen. Roy P. Dyson, the bill's sponsor and a Southern Maryland Democrat. "They're killing one another."

Under the bill, new drivers would be prohibited from carrying passengers younger than age 18, unless the passengers are their siblings, spouses or children. Police officers would not be allowed to stop teen-age drivers for violations, but could write citations if the drivers are stopped for other reasons.

This week, the Senate defeated an amendment to the bill that would have permitted new drivers to transport as many as three passengers younger than 18 to and from school-sponsored functions.

Frederick County Republican Sen. Alex X. Mooney, who cast one of 14 votes against the bill, said the measure is an attack on young drivers. He said there are plenty of reckless adult drivers in Maryland.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates, where its prospects are uncertain.

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