Florida teen driving laws in place to prevent tragedy
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
COLLIER COUNTY Fla.- Two people died in an early morning crash Thursday on I-75 near the Pine Ridge Road exit in Collier County. One, a 16-year-old Lehigh Acres girl.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Spokeswoman Courtney Heidelberg said young teens shouldn't drive alone on a dark interstates in the middle of the night.
"Experience does make a big difference when it comes to driving." Heidelberg said.
In Thursday morning's deadly crash, the FHP said a semi truck driven by 48-year-old Alexander Brener slammed into a mini van driven by 16-year-old Janelle Avelaez. Both were killed.
It is still unknown what the 16-year-old was doing out at 3 a.m. But, unless she was going to or from work, it was illegal for her to be driving alone.
"Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., you must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21-years-old occupying the closest seat to your right." Heidelberg said.
Florida was the first state in the country to implement what is called a graduated drivers program. 16 and 17 year old's have curfew hours and adult passenger requirements to keep them out of danger.
"It was actually very successful in making a difference. One year after the implementation of the program we saw a 23% decrease in the number of crashes for 16 and 17 year old's." Heidelberg said.
Safety officials said it shouldn't take a tragedy to raise awareness. Teens and parents should practice safe driving at all times.
"As teens become new drivers, they gradually gain experience but there is a transition period where they do have somebody there with them." Heidelberg said.
Both drivers were not wearing seat belts. the Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating.