“It takes just one bad decision, and it can change everything.”
Shelby: It happened so fast. Sixteen-year-old Michael Cantamiglia and his friend, Seventeen-year-old Andrew Case, were in a terrible car crash that took both of their lives.
“She said that they had two boys from a car accident and that somebody needed to go identify them, and I couldn’t do it.”
Shelby: Michael and Andrew were riding with a group of guys in a friend’s SUV. The driver, who was sixteen, had just recently passed his driver’s test and suddenly dropped his cell phone.
“So, he bent down to try and find it and when he came up he steered them straight in to the embankment and flipped them.”
Shelby: After the accident, investigators learned that the driver had been smoking marijuana.
Marlene and Karen believe that their sons could still be alive if there were tougher rules for new drivers in their home state of Pennsylvania.
“If the law were in place, there would be no question. You would just say, ‘that’s the law.’ you know?”
Shelby: The law they are talking about is a graduated license program which has been proven to save lives. Here is how it works. For drivers under eighteen, the law limits things like when teen drivers can be on the road, and who can ride in the car. As they become more experienced drivers, the limits decrease.
A new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that states with graduated license programs have a 26% lower rate of fatal crashes for sixteen-year-old drivers.
Jackie Gillan works with the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and says that there are three important parts to programs that work: restricting the number of passengers, restricting driving at night and preventing cell phone use.
Jackie Gillan: When states do that, we have found that it almost immediately results in saving lives.”
Shelby: Safety advocates are pushing Congress to pass a federal graduated license law.
“It doesn’t make sense when we know that they will save so many lives to have a different set of rules in different states.”
Shelby: But some say it shouldn’t be up to the federal government to decide local road safety. They say it should be up to the individual states who will have to enforce these laws, or even left to families to decide what works for them.
But it is the personal experiences of these two moms that are causing them to speak out so other families won’t have to go through what they did.
“They don’t mean to hurt anybody and they don’t mean to do the wrong thing. They’re just… they’re kids and they can’t think of the consequences. It doesn’t come to them until it’s too late.”
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.