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Queens Residents Say Student Drivers Are Running Into Their Parked Cars

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In the last couple of months, Dmitrious Drimaltis says bumps and dents have been showing up on the back of his car. He and other residents in Fresh Meadows, Queens, believe the damage is being caused by student drivers.

"They hit the bumper," Drimaltis told CBS2's Natalie Duddridge. "One time the guy hit it in the front, one time in the back."

"It's seven days a week -- it could be Fourth of July, it could be Christmas -- there's at least 10 cars out here that are constantly circling a block, making U-turns, using everybody else's cars to practice with," said Michael Laparado, another Fresh Meadows resident.

These neighbors aren't the only ones complaining. State Sen. Tony Avella said he's received at least 25 reports of dinged cars and broken mirrors from Little Neck to Flushing to Whitestone. He believes the driving instructors are to blame.

"Some of them don't have proper identification," Avella said. "And some of them are obviously teaching students the wrong way to drive."

That's why Avella is pushing for legislation that would reform the driving school industry. He wants the Department of Motor Vehicles to regulate the number of student drivers allowed to train in one area to prevent oversaturation.

But driving instructors are pushing back. They say the best way for students to practice their three-point turns is in their own backyard.

"How effective can you train someone if you have staged zones where you could teach?" said Osvaldo Ocasio, general manager of Ferrari Driving School. "I think the reality is, driving in New York City especially, you've got to be exposed to all kinds of landscapes."

In addition to a student-driver sticker, Avella wants to mandate that every driving school post its contact information right on the car.

"In case they hit somebody's car -- any, my car or my neighbor's car -- so I can take the name of the driving school and the telephone number," Drimaltis said.

While CBS2 was in Fresh Meadows, we saw at least a dozen student drivers practicing their full stops and parallel parking. Just one more reason neighbors say they're getting in the way.

"When I'm trying to move my car, I have to wait for a beginning driver to make a U-turn," said Jill Benedict. "It could take five minutes."

That's why the local residents hope the legislation is seriously considered so they can stop what they call the "driving school traffic jams."

The bill is currently being looked at by the state Senate Transportation Committee, but it has many steps before it could become law.

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