Greenback family pushes for stricter teen driving laws


GREENBACK (WATE) A Greenback family is one of many around the country pushing for stricter graduated driver licensing laws.

The STANDUP Act (The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act) is calling for all states to have similar rules for teens.

Right now, in some states you can get behind the wheel as early as 14 years old.

The yellow Volkswagen Beetle belonging to Joe Polakiewicz, 16, was completely destroyed after a wreck on the highway in October 2010.

"My wheels slid around a turn. I over corrected and hit a tree," Polakiewicz said.

The family bought back the wreckage after the crash. They hope to eventually take it to schools so it can be a visual lesson for other teenage drivers.

Apart from his many broken bones, Polakiewicz had serious internal injuries. "They had to take out one of my kidneys and my spleen. My urethra was severed from my prostate," he said..

"The first part was real touch and go. We were living minute by minute, second by second," said his mother, Nancy Polakiewicz.

The family continues Joe's journey to recovery with surgeries. Now, his parents have joined others around the country to push for stricter graduated driver licensing laws through the STANDUP Act.

In Tennessee, that would mean teens would get a learners permit at 16, not at 15 like they do now.

At the time of the accident, Joe Polakiewicz had only had his license for two months.

"Had he been a little older, and had a little more experience driving that could have made a difference," his mother said.

In Tennessee, the act also pushes to extend all other restrictions for teen drivers until they turn 17.

The Polakiewiczs say if their efforts save just one teenager from what they went through, it will be worth it.

"The most dangerous thing you can do is get into a car. You think about all the distractions out there, cell phones, radio, all those things can be a deadly combination. It almost was for Joe," his mother said.

A large group of parents and others are in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to push legislators to move on the STANDUP Act.

The Polakiewiczs cannot go because of Joe's next surgery, but they still plan to go and meet with politicians later.