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Driving laws often not followed

GABRIELLA CAFARELLI, Staff Writer

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In high school, it is a given that rules will be broken and disobeyed, but how far is too far? Upon reaching the age of sixteen, students learn to drive with parents, begin driver’s education, and get their permits. There are laws in place to protect new drivers, their passengers, and other drivers on the road, but they are not always followed, especially in high school.
In Connecticut, driving rules are relatively straightforward. When a student is sixteen or seventeen years old with a learner’s permit, the driver may not have any passengers in the car while driving. Exceptions include a licensed driving instructor, parent or legal guardian, or someone who is giving instruction, who is at least twenty years old, and has had a driver’s license for four or more years in a row, without suspension.
Furthermore, for sixteen or seventeen year olds with a driver’s license, only a licensed driving instructor, parent or legal guardian with a proper license, or someone giving instruction who is at least 20 years old and has held a license for at least 4 years with no suspensions during the last 4 years can be a passenger in the car for the first six months. Then, for six months after that, immediate family may ride in the car, such as brothers or sisters.
Along with these rules, there are curfews to follow. With a learner’s permit, there is no curfew, you just have to follow the rules priorly stated. But with a driver’s license, there is a curfew to fo

Photo courtesy of www.thecarconnection.com

llow. Until the driver’s eighteenth birthday, they cannot drive between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Some exceptions include employment, school, religious activities or a medical necessity.
Many new drivers, whether they have a learner’s permit or driver’s license, do not follow these rules, even after learning about them at driver’s education or from their parent or guardian. With a possible explanation of why, senior Mark Haller said, “When I say the word popular in this sense, I’m not meaning it in a way that you’re gonna look cool because you’ve broken a law by driving someone you weren’t supposed to. I believe it’s popular in the fact that there are a lot of people that do not drive, so bringing people places and carpooling purposes are popular.”
In agreement, senior Kevin Mulumba said, “Teens popularly drive others illegally because they aren’t patient. They want to show their friends how they can drive.”
Arianna Salafia, a sophomore, also believes teens are impatient, “I think that once someone gets their license they want to be able to drive their friends right away.”
Six out of eight students who were interviewed have either been in the car illegally with someone who should not be driving them or has driven someone else illegally. The reason for this is mostly related to after school activities. Many want to go somewhere to get food during a study hall after school or to kill time before a sports game instead of going home on the bus first.
“I feel like it is popular though because teenagers like to do things together,” said Deshaun Bradshaw, a junior. Many want someone to accompany them on a two-minute Dunkin run or quick jam session in their car. Rather than bringing their own snacks to school, it is much easier and saves time in the morning to bring friends in your car during a sports study hall and pick up something for everyone.
However, carpooling with friends, who should not be driving, is not just something that happens after school. Some students give rides to friends on their way to school or at the end of the school day, instead of taking the bus. It is convenient because students can wake up later in the morning and will not have to wait outside in the cold, rainy, or snowy weather. Everyone hates when the bus arrives late or early, so it is beneficial to carpool or drive yourself. “[It can be] too cold outside to be waiting at the bus, I don’t have time to be freezing. When the bus is late, I feel like I missed the bus, so I start to walk home, and then the bus shows up and drives off without me,” Malik Shabazz, a sophomore.
In the afternoons, there will be no worry of missing the bus or not being able to find the bus because a carpool buddy will not leave without a student. Also, if there is an afterschool activity but no ride to pick up a student when it is over, someone with a licence could easily take that student home. “A lot of times [students’] friends ask them and they don’t want to let them down,” said school resource officer Lee Buller on students driving others.
There may seem to be many positive sides to illegally driving friends and classmates, but the consequences for breaking that law may not be worth it.
Depending on the offense, suspension will vary. For instance, for a first offense, depending on the situation, the repercussion could range from a thirty-day suspension with $175 fine to a six-month suspension with $175 fine, as well as possible imprisonment. In a third offense situation, consequences range from a six-month suspension with $175 to a one-year suspension with $175 fine and likely imprisonment.
“The reason they have that law is so that the teenagers become better drivers, so they’re not distracted. It’s dramatically reduced the number of teenage driving deaths,” said resource officer Anthony Gennaro.
No one that was interviewed had been caught, so either it is not common for people who drive others illegally to get caught, or they are sneaky enough to avoid getting caught.
As for what teachers believe about the popularity of teenagers illegally driving each other, Spanish teacher Beth Shapiro stated, “Yes, it is definitely popular at this age.” When asked specifically about students, she said, “With all of the after school activities and sports, there’s no doubt students drive each other around.”
For illegally driving a passenger, the consequence in Connecticut is at least a 48 hour suspension. If this violation becomes more frequent, the offense will increase. For some, it is worth the risk of a fine. But, it should not be worth the risk of other driver’s lives, the passenger’s life, and of course, your own life.

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Driving laws often not followed