In response to an immense number of teen deaths in car accidents
across the state of Colorado, legislators have written a new bill
to be discussed in the 2005 legislative session beginning in
The Teen Passenger Restriction Bill, if passed, would limit the
number of passengers allowed in a car with a newly licensed driver.
For the first six months teenagers have a driver’s license, it
would be illegal to have a passenger younger than 21 in the car
unless there is a parent, guardian or driving instructor older than
25 also in the car.
In 2003, 81 drivers or passengers 16 to 20 years old died in car
crashes in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of
For the following six months, the driver would be allowed to
have one passenger younger than 21. If there were more than one
passenger under 21 in the car, the presence of a parent, guardian
or driving instructor would be required.
“There was an automobile crash in El Paso County recently
involving eight passengers, three of which were killed … When we
are having accidents like this on a yearly basis with so many teens
dying, it is reasonable to consider a bill like this,” said Rep.
Ramey Johnson, R-Jefferson County, one of the bill’s sponsors.
The law has a few exceptions. For example, it would not be
enforced in the case of a medical emergency or employment.
If a driver is caught disobeying the law, proposed penalties
include points off his or her driver’s license, community service
“I’m not in favor of creating a nanny government. We’re allowing
kids in automobiles that are technically advanced machines with
lots of distractions. We need to recognize that many crashes were
with brand-new drivers who were driving cars with a whole lot of
kids in them,” Johnson said.
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, the Colorado Department of
Transportation, AAA and several local organizations support the
Cheryl Poage, from the Miller Safety Center, an organization
that seeks to educate people in life safety, fire and accident
prevention, strongly supports the bill.
“Driving is a psychomotor skill that needs to be developed …
Having peers or siblings in the car with a new driver increases the
risk-taking behavior and increases distractions that the new driver
has difficulty handling,” Poage wrote in an e-mail interview.
Freshman Kirsten Krogh, an art major, understands the logic
behind the bill but is reluctant to support it.
“I think the idea is good because it’s true that new drivers are
more prone to get into accidents. But on the other hand, you have
to learn sometime how to drive with more people in the car,” Krogh
Poage is confident, though, that if the bill is passed it will
be met with support and will force parents to continue to monitor
their children’s driving behavior.
“(Driving) is the single activity killing the most teens.
Parents need to be parents and protect their kids,” Poage
Ramey said it is important to note that this is not yet a
“This is just a beginning. We are creating dialogue. The bill
will obviously be hammered out and changed before it becomes a
law,” Ramey said.