Licensing changes proposed in Maine for teen drivers

| 3/5/2003

Maine Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky wants young drivers to earn their driver’s licenses one step at a time. To achieve this goal, he is proposing changes in the driver licensing process that would establish a graduated driver licensing system for new drivers under 18 years old.

The graduated licensing system will place certain driving restrictions at each level, allowing for the teen to gain experience in lower-risk situations. By successfully completing each level, the teen driver can graduate to the next, less restrictive phase of the licensing process.

The graduated licensing system would have three stages – supervised learner’s permit; an intermediate license limiting unsupervised driving to low-risk driving times; and an unrestricted license.

Gwadosky also indicated his department would review and make appropriate changes to rules governing the driver’s education curriculum and road test requirements.

Tragically, in addition to suffering the loss of one young person per week, an average of 60 young people are injured in car crashes every seven days, according to a statement from Gwadosky’s office. In fact, the statement adds, the 16- to 24-year-old age group represents 33 percent of those hospitalized from head injuries sustained in car crashes.

Over the past six weeks, Gwadosky met with a variety of groups to discuss the issues surrounding driver-licensing requirements for younger drivers. He sought insight from many individuals and groups concerned with the safety of young drivers.

Sen. Christine Savage will sponsor the proposal, which has not yet been printed or received a legislative document number.