BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Getting a driver's license is a rite of passage for teenagers, but a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling for earlier curfews for teen drivers.
The CDC is recommending that states extend night time driving curfews to cover all drivers under 18 and make the curfews start closer to 9 p.m.
The CDC found that while every state except Vermont has night driving restrictions as part of their graduated license programs, nationwide 31-percent of the 16 and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes from 2009–2014 were involved in night crashes. This happened even though only about 11-percent of all trips made by these drivers occur when it is dark out.
Sam Dalfonso runs the Buffalo Driving Schools, and after 52 years of being in business, has seen it all.
"When the car fills up with teenagers, with friends, they are at the highest risk and especially at night," says Dalfonso.
In New York State, 16-year-old drivers must have a Junior Permit for six months while getting 50 hours of parent certified supervised driving experience. Fifteen of those hours must be after sunset.
Then, they must have a Junior License for six months which carries a 9 p.m. driving curfew.
After that, if a 17-year-old takes driver's ed, they can get a senior license and drive curfew-free.
"Do you think 17-year-olds should have a (driving) curfew?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"I'd like to look at the information more. I'm certainly heartened to see that we compared to others have more rigorous graduation of those rights," said Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs.
Jacobs encourages more driver's ed courses to be offered at night and says parents need to drive with their kids in the evening as well.
“No matter what happens, at some point in time, they're going to have to drive at night and ideally you don't want them experiencing that first drive at night by themselves," says Jacobs.
Dalfonso also stresses that parental involvement is key.
"I'm really in the belief that driving is a family affair and the parents are the ones that sign, give the okay, to the teenager to begin driving. They're also the ones that can take the driving privileges away," says Dalfonso.
The CDC also found that communities could fully enforce laws known to reduce fatal crashes involving teen drivers -- including primary seat belt laws and drunk driving laws.