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New Teen Driver Law Limits Number of Passengers


Two new laws went into effect in July impacting Virginia drivers. Both focus on distracted driving.

The first was the highly anticipated new texting and driving regulations, and the other focused specifically on new teen drivers and who they can have in the car.

"In 2012, according to the DMV, 20 percent of crashes were caused by distracted driving," police spokeswoman Carter Johnson said. "That's a number of things, texting while driving, the music's too loud, the number of passengers in the vehicle."

The new law, called the provisional licensee law, aims to curb distracted driving, especially in rookie drivers, by limiting the number of passengers allowed in their vehicle.

"You want to have someone in the car with you who has little more experience, and you want to eliminate the distractions the passengers provide in the vehicle," Johnson said.

Under the new law, drivers under 18 in their first year can only have one passenger under 21, unless a parent is in the car.

After the first year, and if the driver is still under 18, they can have up to three passengers under 21, only if they are heading to or from a school function.

Some teens say they support the new law.

"Everybody suffers from the idea of distraction, and singling yourself out and thinking you're invincible to that, is not a good idea," said 14-year-old Nico Zuffoletti.

But others are not convinced.

"It lowers the level of trust with drivers. I don't say I don't like it, but it's interesting," said 16-year-old Christopher For.

Either way, police say it's important for teens to know and understand the law.

"As a new driver, they should look into the law, they should read these guidelines, and make sure they are complying," said Johnson.


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