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Capps, Okerblom Applaud Passage of Legislation to Protect Teenage Drivers

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) applauded the passage into law of incentive grants encouraging states to adopt the major provisions of the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act (STANDUP) Act, legislation that will protect new and teenage drivers by ensuring they have a minimum amount of experience behind the wheel before becoming fully licensed drivers. The grants were included in legislation reauthorizing federal highways and transit programs that the President signed into law this month.

Capps helped introduce the STANDUP Act in the House of Representatives last year. That legislation establishes minimum federal requirements for state Graduate Driver Licensing (GDL) laws and encourage all states to adopt GDL laws that meet those minimum requirements within 3 years. Currently GDL laws vary from state to state.

We know that inexperience behind the wheel is a major factor in traffic accidents and that distractions created by cell phones and other devices only increase those risks. We need to make our roads safer for drivers of all ages, especially our young people by encouraging states to upgrade their GDL laws. We know that lowering the number of teen crashes will save billions of dollars, but more importantly, it will save thousands of lives of people like Eric Okerblom. These incentive grants will be a key factor in ensuring the safety of our kids on the road by putting in place strong GDL standards across the country," said Congresswoman Capps.

I couldn't save my 19 year old son, Eric, from being killed by a distracted teenage driver, but this policy may save your life, or the life of someone you love. Thank you Congresswoman Capps for your commitment to preventing needless carnage on our highways by supporting the STANDUP Act," said Eilene Okerblom.

Eilene Okerblom's son Eric was killed when his bike was struck by a truck traveling at sixty miles per hour. Eric's story is featured in two national campaigns: the U.S. Department of Transportation's Faces of Distracted Driving and Allstate Insurance's Save11. Earlier this year, Capps joined Okerblom at an event recognizing Distracted Driving Awareness Month at Pioneer High School in Santa Maria.

Every day, an average of 11 teens die in car crashes. And, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported. In 2009, 16% of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted.

While every state has some form of safe teen driving laws, most states have not fully enacted all elements of an optimal GDL program. These incentive grants will help to save thousands of precious teen lives and billions of dollars. We applaud Congress for taking this important step to protect valuable teen lives. Without Representative Capps' leadership and support of the STANDUP Act, this would not have been possible," said Dean Pappas, Vice President & Assistant General Counsel, Allstate Insurance Company.

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