Teen panel says tougher road rules will save lives

8:16 PM, Mar 19, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Imagine getting a text message every time a distracted driver caused a fatal accident. That's one recommendation a group of teens have proposed to remind their classmates about the dangers of getting behind the wheel.

"In my driver's ed course, we did not focus at all on texting and driving or other distractions that aren't necessarily illegal but they definitely affect you," said Kennan Luther.

MORE | Recommendations from Governor's Commission on Teen Driving

Luther is one of nearly two dozen teens commissioned by the Governor to come up with ideas on how to reduce fatal accidents and crashes involving youth.  

It's a unique idea, that many believe has netted the state creative and effective ideas for combating the #1 teen killer, car crashes.

"We're the only commission in the entire country focused on teen issues, composed of all teens," said high school senior and commission chair, Eric Beeler.

While not every idea will make the legislative cut, Sen. Butch Miller who serves on the state's transportation committee, likes the idea of community service instead of fines for certain driving violations. 

The panel says police are often reluctant to cite teens because they know its the parents that usually pay the bill and a license suspension would put many working parents in a tough spot.

"When the teens do the community service it costs the teen, it doesn't cost mom and dad," said Miller.

Also on the list, a no texting pledge for teens that want to park on campus.

"If you are caught texting while driving, your parking will be taken away for that year," said Beeler.

They want the state's Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program renamed and re-written to recognize and teach about other deadly distractions like texting.

"It doesn't matter if you're texting, it doesn't matter if you have friends in the car, any form of impairment is just as bad as drinking. And we want our generation to know that," said Beeler.

The recommendations could impact adults too.  The panel wants a ban on handheld cell phones, an idea that came up, but failed to pass out of the House this year.

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