Maine teenagers and young drivers are injured or dying in car accidents at an astonishingly high rate and something needs to be done about it. Our state legislators are seeking to bring change by improving Maine driver education programs.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of 16 to 24 year olds. In 2008, people among those ages constituted 14 percent of all drivers and accounted for nearly 37 percent of all crashes and nearly 32 percent of all fatal crashes.
This trend is beyond disturbing and often results in tragic outcomes.
Charles Summers, Maine Secretary of State, is advocating for an overhaul of Maine's driver education curriculums in hopes that stronger programs and enforced education can bring change.
According to reports from the Maine Secretary of State, 12 people died in Maine car accidents between December 25th, 2011 and January 9th, 2012 -- seven of those victims were young drivers. Another horrifying statistic - almost two young drivers die each month in Maine and more than 42 are injured in car crashes each week.
Summers, who reports that Maine driver education programs were last updated in 1996, is encouraging curriculums to take advantage of technological advances since then and incorporate new features such as interactive driving simulators. He also would like to see the educational programs updated to reflect current statistics and feature new instructional videos.
Another potential area for improvement is the number of practice hours young drivers complete with driving instructors. Maine's practice driving hour requirement is higher than other states, but it can always be higher. When it comes to driving, practice doesn't necessarily make perfect, but it can help save lives.
As required by state law, Summers has assembled a Technical Review Panel to evaluate driver education programs and incorporate changes and growth. The panel will gather public input from students, educators, law officials and parents in Maine communities and submit a report to the Legislature's Transportation Committee by the end of February.
The Legislature expects to begin working on the overhaul of curriculums during the current session.
In support of this statewide issue, Maine Governor Paul LePage has designated the month of January as 'Young Driver Safety Awareness Month.'
At the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, we see firsthand the effects and devastation of car accidents that far too often involve young drivers. We are hopeful that improved driving instruction, education and practice can bring the change that Maine so desperately needs.