Stiffer Penalties for Reckless Teen Driving

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney gave a gift to Marion Emslie earlier this month, just before leaving office. Emslie’s daughter, Talia, was killed when she was 15, while she was a passenger in a car that ended up in a high-speed chase. Local government was uninterested in discussing factors that led to Talia’s death, and it became something that wasn’t talked about. However, Talia’s mom continued to fight on her behalf for stronger penalties for teen drivers who engage in risky behavior behind the wheel.

Emslie noted in a news article that come prom time, schools talk to their students about driver education 101 topics such as the dangers of drinking and driving, and about the importance of wearing a seatbelt, but the make no mention of speeding. Though Massachusetts enacted graduated licensing laws in 1998, Emslie felt more enforcement and education was needed to save lives.

The bill signed by Romney requires teen drivers with a learners permit to log more hours behind the wheel, and adds stiffer penalties for reckless driving, including speeding and drag racing. Emslie links speeding with the number one cause of teen deaths in auto accidents. Among the penalties outlined in the new legislation include: a 90-day permit suspension for speeders, a $50 fine, and an additional fine of $10 for every mile the teen driver is over the speed limit. These hefty fines will certainly make teens think twice before driving recklessly. In addition, if the teen driver is caught a second time, they would face suspension for one year, as well as an additional fine.

Emslie is not sure yet if the bill will save lives, though she is positive it will have an impact on how teen drive. She is also no doubt happy that she has been able to get the government to finally accept that more needed to be done to protect Massachusetts’ teen drivers. For Thalia, the laws come a little too late, though her peers now have a better chance at survival.

Photo: Associated Press