MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Today’s teens are part of what it called generation Z, and some of those teens spent Wednesday morning in a hotel ballroom in Meriden. Members of Generation Z are learning important lessons from the AAA. It turns out there is a lot to remember when you are a 16 or 17 year-old driver.
News8 quizzed some of those teens about the rules for new drivers.
“Once you get your license, for 6 months you’re only allowed to still drive with parents and guardians, a certified trainer,” said Jonathan Law High School sophomore Rohin Manohar.
“Well, in a few days or months, pretty much just my siblings and my parents,” said Ally Stein, Junior at Law, who has been driving for almost 6 months.
“And then 6 months later I can have friends,” explained Tamara Thacker, also a Law High junior.
Those restrictions are part of Connecticut’s graduated license system, and Tim Hollister helped create it. Hollister’s teenage son Reid died exactly 11 years ago, at a time the state was seeing an increase in teen crashes.
“Governor Rell appointed a task force to overhaul our teen driver laws,” Hollister said. Rell put Hollister on that task force, and the resulting changes in state law saved countless young lives.
“We took one of the weakest teen driver laws in the country and turned it into one of the strictest,” Hollister explained. “Over 7, 8 years we have about a 70% reduction in teen fatalities.”
Hollister has written a book titled “Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving.” The message for young drivers goes beyond graduated license law, however. They also learned about drinking and driving, smoking pot and driving and distracted driving, which is a real issue for young drivers. If it seems like younger people are addicted to their cellphones, well, it turns out they are.
“It’s a biological thing that’s happening, and you’ve got silicon valley and we’ve got social media companies that are literally making our new snapchat and our devices very addictive,” said filmmaker Joni Siani.
Siani studies and educates drivers about the need to focus on the positive parts of putting phones down. The good news is, word is getting through. Jonathan Law Junior Emily Rednak admits she spends a lot of time on her phone, but when she’s driving, what does she do?
“Put it away or turn it off,” Rednak said.
“I put it on do not disturb and put it in my cupholder,” said Law junior Cali Jolley.
It is also important for parents of teen drivers to know all those rules, and to set a good example, too. For instance, if parents text and talk while driving, their kids will think it’s okay to do when they drive.