DMV: 16-year-old driver in deadly crash should not have had passengers

Intersection of Routes 81 and 148 in Killingworth (WTNH)

KILLINGWORTH, Conn. (WTNH) — A fatal accident in Killingworth last weekend is putting the spotlight on Connecticut’s special restrictions on new drivers.

Just before 4:30 p.m. Sunday, police say two motorcyclists were traveling with a group of other bikers on Route 81 just north of the intersection of Route 148. At the same time, an SUV being driven by 16-year-old Katherine Hausherr was heading southbound on Route 81. According to state police, a head-on collision occurred between the SUV and the two motorcycles, leaving one motorcycle rider dead and two injured.

Hausherr was in violation of at least two restrictions of her new driver’s license. Her twin sister was in the car along with another 16-year-old passenger. Young drivers are not allowed to have any passengers in the car for the first six months of driving. The DMV says Hausherr only had her license for about two months.

“The only people, the first six months, Mom and Dad who have a drivers’ license, obviously they can, after that, the next six months, it’s allowed to have your siblings in the car with you,” said DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala.

Tim Hollister of Bloomfield has become somewhat of an expert on the dangers facing teenage drivers and their parents. In 2006, his 17-year-old son, Reid, was killed in a speeding accident on Interstate 84. He had two young friends in the car. Hollister says that passengers in the car is one of the most misunderstood risks.

“Every teen passenger of a teen driver, the risk goes up exponentially. So, two, three, four passengers, the risk of a crash, the risk of distraction goes up and up,” he said.

Following the death of his son there was a series of fatal teen crashes in Connecticut. Governor Rell appointed a special task force to research the issue. Hollister served on that task force and now shares the medical and other research on a blog and in a book titled “Not So Fast, Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving.”

“The human brain is not fully developed until we reach about age 22 to 25, and the last part that develops is the part that provides judgement and restraint,” said Hollister.

The task force resulted in the toughest teenage driver laws in the country being approved in 2008, resulting in the restrictions now on the books. Those restrictions include an 11 p.m. curfew on young drivers.

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