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Florida parents may get tool to track teen drivers

John Egan

Two Florida lawmakers are trying to make it easier for parents in the Sunshine State to keep tabs on their teenage drivers.

State Sen. Greg Evers and state Rep. Richard Steinberg are sponsoring legislation that would give moms and dads the option to be notified electronically — by email or text — when traffic tickets, traffic violations, car accidents and driver’s license suspensions show up on their teens’ driving records. Their proposal will be considered during Florida’s 2012 legislative session.

Evers and Steinberg are patterning their idea after a similar program in New York.

“I am sponsoring this legislation because I support a parent’s right to know what is going on with their child’s driving record, especially when their insurance rates go up because of an infraction they knew nothing about,” Evers says in a statement.

Adding a teen to a car insurance policy can mean a 50 percent to 100 percent jump in the parents’ insurance premium, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Steinberg says: “A parent should have the option to choose to be notified when their child has an event added to their driving record. When a minor knows their parent will promptly learn about any traffic infractions, I expect they’ll drive more safely. Thus, it will benefit both their passengers and all who share the road with them.”

Evers’ measure is Senate Bill 854. Steinberg’s measure is House Bill 571.

In New York, the state Department of Motor Vehicles runs the Teen Electronic Event Notification Service (TEENS). The free, optional program notifies parent of drivers under age 18 when tickets, traffic violations, driver’s license suspensions or certain accidents pop up on their teens’ driving records. Notification is done by regular mail or email.

Once a teen driver turns 18, the parent’s enrollment in TEENS is discontinued automatically.

“TEENS is a very helpful free service meant to alert, not alarm, parents or guardians,” Orange County (N.Y.) Clerk Donna Benson said in 2010.

Drivers age 15 to 20 accounted for 11 percent of all drivers involved in fatal car crashes in 2009 and 14 percent of all drivers involved in car crashes, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

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