Drivers License Debate: Teenage driving requirements proposed on national level

05/04/2010 // West Palm Beach, Florida, USA // Nicole Howley // Nicole Howley

Washington D.C.—A national graduated driver licensing (GDL) law is being pushed by three Democratic senators who want to impose a nation-wide standard for young drivers. The proposed legislation is aimed to strengthen roadway safety and save the lives of hundreds of teenagers who are killed or injured in car accidents, as reported by USA Today.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, states who have implemented major restriction for young drivers have seen crash reductions of 10-30 percent. For example, in Massachusetts’ fatal crashes involving drivers under the age of 18 fell 75 percent within three years of implementing stricter state regulations for young drivers. Crashes involving injuries involving the same age group dropped by 38 percent.

The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STAND UP), would affect all new drivers under the age of 21. If the law was implemented, states would have to adhere to the following restrictions:

• Young drivers can get a learner’s permit at age 16, and will be able to earn an unrestricted license at 18. Instead of getting a permit at age 14 or 15, and in most states, a drivers license at age 16.

• Establish a three-stage process with a learner’s permit and intermediate stage before an unrestricted driver’s license.

• Prohibit unsupervised nighttime driving during the first two stages.

• Prohibit non-emergency use of cellphones and other communications devices during the first two phases.

States who fail to follow STAND UP’s minimum restrictions after three years would be punished by receiving a lowered amount of federal highway construction money. Advocates for the GDL program say raising the learner’s permit to age 16 would reduce fatal crashes of 15 to 17-years-old’s by nearly 13 percent.

However, not everyone is on board with the proposed legislation. The non-profit National Youth Rights Association, who supports lowering the drinking and voting age, believe this measure is a “horrible idea.” They assert, “Part of the beauty of our federal system is allowing states to be laboratories and having different policies and approaches to difficult problems. Driving in New Jersey is completely different from driving in Nebraska and Idaho.”

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for government lawyers.

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