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Legislation aims to improve safety of teen drivers

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar joined three other lawmakers in recently introducing legislation to better prepare teen drivers and improve safety on America's roads and highways.

The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STAND UP) Act would promote graduated driver's license programs that's designed to help teens become safe, responsible drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, who are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than are other drivers.

"As the mother of a teenager, I know firsthand how important it is to parents to keep their children safe behind the wheel," Klobuchar said. "Becoming a safe driver requires experience and practice, and the STAND UP Act would require young drivers to focus on learning how to drive responsibly and remove dangerous distractions, like texting while driving, that often lead to accidents. This bill will help make our roads safer and save lives."

In 2009, about 3,000 teens in the United States aged 15 to 19 were killed and more than 350,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes. More than 49 percent of teens report texting as a distraction and 82 percent of teens report using cell phones while driving.

Research shows that graduated driver's license programs are an effective method for reducing the crash risk of new drivers by introducing teens to the driving experience gradually, phasing in full driving privileges over time in lower-risk settings, and helping teens learn to eliminate distractions that cause accidents, Klobuchar said. The STAND UP Act would call on states to establish graduated driver's license systems with minimum requirements.

The bill would also provide an exemption from the graduated driver's license program for state farm work licensing programs that allow teens to do a reasonable amount of driving in association of work on a family farm. Minnesota's Farm Work License would fall under this exemption.