New driver "6 Month Rule" making a positive difference

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Soleil Roth hadn't been driving long when she got in a fender bender.

She tells KEPR, "In the parking lot. Someone came around the corner and I hadn't seen them and I backed up."

She's not alone. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 16-year-old drivers have the highest risk of getting into an accident. Last year, almost 40% of the crashes in the state involved young drivers. Washington's graduated driver's license system is supposed to keep that number low. New drivers start with a six-month intermediate license. They can't drive between one and five AM or have anyone younger than 20 in the car with them unless it's family. No friends.

Soleil says, "It's distracting when you have a lot of friends in the car and they're all being girls.. Just chatty and laughing and giggling and sometimes all the loud noise it's hard to focus."

It's been a decade since the law was put into place and teenagers still aren't quite used to the idea.

"It's not exactly a favored rule," she continues.

"When I first got my license, all I wanted to do is cram all my girlfriends in the car and jam out to Taylor swift or something. But, you can't," teen driver, Lacey Schmidt says.

New drivers are most commonly caught speeding or what police say is being too comfortable behind the wheel.

Officer Becca Jones exaplains, "It's something you need to not to be comfortable doing. Need to be very aware, very attentive of your actions."

There are signs it's working. Since the law took effect, deadly accidents involving 16 year olds are down %. Those numbers help drivers like Lacey understand why the rule is there.

"I feel like from the first six months, I'm definitely a better driver."

Still, over 200 teens dies in car crashes in Washington every year.