CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) — State police confirm Luke Malinich, the driver of the car involved in a fatal crash in Clarence on Monday, had a learner’s permit.

They also confirmed passenger Lauren Taggart had a junior license.

According to New York State law, anyone with a permit is required to have a parent, guardian, or someone 21 or older with a license in the car anytime they’re driving.

With a junior license, drivers can’t have more than one passenger under 21 in the car unless additional passengers are immediate family members.

Fatal car crashes caused the death of four local teens in the past week.

Two 19-year-olds, Molly Kaminski and Mackenzie Mycek, also died in a crash in Lancaster last week.

Police said speed was a factor in both and AAA driving instructor Victor Morales said this is common.

“We are seeing an increase in teen crashes and a lot of that is because they aren’t taking the speed factor seriously. We have to remember they’re inexperienced and that lack of awareness, we have to keep reminding them to be consistent with watching the speed,” he said.

He also said to adjust speed to weather conditions.

Morales said one of the main things he stresses to teen drivers is to always be aware.

“Don’t only pay attention to the signs, the signals, and lane markings, watch traffic and watch what other people are doing and anticipate what they might do so you have a chance to respond in time,” he said. “Keep a huge donut of space around your car to the front and to the side, never drive side-by-side always drive staggered so you have someplace to go.”

He said distractions including cell phones and having several people in the car can also lead to crashes.

“Even just talking even to a driving instructor can be a distraction so I try to limit the amount of talking in the vehicle. And kids always hear, ‘look at me when I’m talking to you,’ I make sure I tell them right of the bat, ‘while we’re driving, don’t look at me, just listen to me so you don’t have to turn your head. Pay attention to the road.'”

Checking mirrors and blind spots are also good habits to get into.

Morales said it takes about five years to become just an average driver and even experienced drivers never stop practicing.

Police are still investigating the crash in Clarence and on Tuesday said they will try to get the black box from the car to get more information including the car’s speed when it crashed.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.