YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Republicans and Democrats have come together in the General Assembly for a cause everyone could get behind. A teen driver safety bill introduced by local Del. Martha Mugler passed unanimously through both the House and Senate.
Mugler (D-Hampton) represents York County, Poquoson and Hampton for Virginia’s 91st House of Delegates District. She worked on the teen driver safety bill with local mother Tammy Guido.
Guido lost her 16-year-old son Conner in a car crash after the homecoming dance at Tabb High School in 2019. The crash claimed the lives of three teenage boys.
According to the state police report, speed was a factor in the crash that killed Conner and the other two boys. The report also states the driver of the car didn’t have a license.
Guido believes the crash was completely preventable. So, she set out to make the roads a safer place for other teen drivers.
“Sometimes when common sense doesn’t come into play, that’s when you have to step up and make a law to do something to protect people,” explained Guido.
The bill has two parts.
First, it creates a uniform statewide process requiring students to present a valid driver’s license in order to get a parking pass at school.
Second, the bill focuses on increasing and revamping driver’s education classes for 10th graders statewide. Just as programs like MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) added drunk driving to the courses, this bill will add extra focus to the dangers of distracted driving, speeding and driving without a license.
The legislation passed with flying colors. The House passed it in late January, and the Senate passed it Monday.
“Really excited that it was a really nice bipartisan bill,” said Mugler. “Sometimes it feels like there’s so few of those today. I think student driving safety is something we can all agree is important to us in the commonwealth.”
The bill will now head to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk to be signed into law.
Guido hopes to make the bill bigger than Virginia, going state by state in an effort to make the law a nationwide standard.
In the meantime, she’s still working on raising awareness. She had her son’s car decked out as a moving billboard of sorts thanks to the local graphic design company SWAG.
The car also sports a website Guido created ifyouseesomethingsaysomething.org. The site provides an anonymous tip-line teens can use if they see friends making dangerous decisions on the roads.
When the pandemic is behind us, Guido hopes to park Conner’s car at sporting tournaments and other community functions. She hopes it will educate, promote and remind everyone who sees it what can happen every time they get behind the wheel.