NEW ORLEANS – Concerned parents and legislators were in Washington this week pushing new legislation that would tighten restrictions on teen drivers.
With vehicle accidents claiming the lives of five local teens this week, some say that sort of legislation is way over due.
"I lost so much that night. And there's nothing in this world that could hurt you or anyone more than the pain of losing a child,” said Jim Portell, who lost his daughter in a teen driving crash.
Jamie Portell died eight years ago on the way home from a high school football game in Florida. Her best friend was behind the wheel.
J.T. Cantrell, Megan Hitt, Gabriel Hebert and Ian Hadel died just this past week driving home from an LSU football game.
These are similar stories becoming far too familiar, prompting parents and legislators to take action to help other families avoid similar tragedies.
"When passed the Standup Act will set minimum standards for teen driving laws so that every teen in every community in every state is protected,” said Judith Lee Stone of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
The minimum standards under the Standup Act are as follows: teens would only get a learners permit at 16, and a full license at 18. Teens would have to be supervised driving at night until 18, and cell phones would not be permitted in the vehicle until 18.
Finally, teens would only be allowed one passenger under 21.
"I believe that Jamie would be alive today if we would have had the Standup Act in place back then,” Portell said.
Parents seem to have mixed feeling about the proposed legislation.
Deviney Jackson wants tightened restrictions for teen drivers.
"It's just dangerous out there,” Jackson said. “They're texting, they're on the cell phones, they’re not paying attention."
Sherri Oddo said she doesn't believe the restrictions will stop the problem.
"There's many kids that drive very well,” Oddo said.
Oddo said she doesn't believe the restrictions will stop the problem.
"And honestly, when you're driving down the highway or the interstate, and you look at the people who are carelessly driving. It's not kids. It's older people, truck drivers,” Oddo said.
Still, statistics speak volumes. Teen drivers are four times more likely to die behind the wheel than more experienced drivers.
That's why Bill Walter, who lost his son in an auto accident, agrees with the legislation.
"Parents don't have to be the bad guys when they say, no, you can't take your friends in the car,” Walter said. “No, you can't drive late at night. I truly hope something good can come from Matt's tragedy. Perhaps his experience can serve as an example of why limits on new teen drivers are needed in every state."