Amherst, VA - When it comes to teen driving laws, every state is different. The rules when a teen can get a permit or drive with friends depends on where they live. States like North Dakota have loose laws, while New Jersey's are strict. Laws here at home fall somewhere in between, and some say they need a second look.
In Virginia, a trooper can't pull over a teenage driver solely for texting or talking on a cell phone. That's because texting and talking are secondary offenses here for teens. (Of course, there's been no indication distracted driving played a role in any of these Staunton River accidents.) But a national movement is underway to tighten up all state laws.
Tyler Goolsby is a teen driver and an honest one too.
"I see a lot of my friends texting and driving, on their phone, blaring their music," said Goolsby.
The numbers speak for themselves. From 2005 to 2010, Virginia crashes with teen drivers took 765 lives.
Driver Lloyd Mays is tired of what he sees.
"Cell phones - a lot of it," said Mays."Talking and texting."
"Some people act up in front of their friends to show off and everything, so they should crack down on that," said Goolsby.
When Trooper Barr patrols, he does crack down on reckless teen drivers. But the law only gives him so much power. When it comes to distracted driving like texting, his hands are tied.
"We can't pull them over solely based upon that violation. There has to be another violation of the law. If that was made a primary violation, then we can maybe cut down on it a little more," said Barr.
A national teen driving movement has revved up. The STANDUP Act wants all states on the same page with teen driving. Using money as an incentive, it encourages states to pass tougher laws like restrict night time driving for teens.
One concerned teen is on board.
"If they cut up and act stupid in their vehicles, they should be stripping their license, instead of giving them another chance," said Goolsby.
The STANDUP Act is in place now. Advocates say Virginia has significant weaknesses with its teen driving laws. They recommend making distracted driving for teens a primary, not secondary, offense.