New ND Driving Laws Working to Make Roads Safer - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

New ND Driving Laws Working to Make Roads Safer

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     A law that took effect last January has young drivers waiting longer to get licenses, but so far, it hasn't made roads safer.

"I always thought -- when I was younger -- I would want to get my license right away," Matt Solberg, 16, said. "But now, I think that younger kids should wait, because they're probably not sure how to drive."

     Lunch hour at Fargo North High School is a race to the parking lot, where a driver's license is a ticket to freedom -- and to dangerous roads.

     Captain Bryan Niewind with the North Dakota State Patrol says the force hasn't seen a death toll like this since the early 1980's; in 2012, 168 people died on North Dakota roads, 20 more than in 2011.

In 2012, 168 people died on North Dakota roads.

"Our roads have gotten a little bit deadlier," Niewind said.

     But, Niewind says, the new state driving laws may help make a change. Starting last January, 14- and 15-year-olds now must wait a full year before applying for a license, rather than just 6 months.

"So, a lot of those kids don't have their driver's licenses yet," he said. "We haven't seen any of those effects yet because they had to wait a full year to get their driver's license, and the first ones are just now getting them."

     The law also requires more hours of driving experience in different weather conditions. It's something even a 17-year-old says could help.

"They're young, their decision-making isn't the best," Austin Sweeney (17) said. "Like, peer pressure is a big factor for what they're going to be doing in the car."

     Officers say they do expect to see more crashes as more people move to the state, but they say you can help reduce road collisions by not driving under the influence, and you're always safer wearing your seatbelt.


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