A recent string of crashes in Delaware involving teen
drivers has legislators in the state looking for solutions.
House Republicans said they would introduce legislation in
the coming weeks to raise the minimum driving age.
That idea, along with other new proposed driving rules,
comes on the heels of several accidents since November involving teen drivers
that killed 10 teenagers.
Current state law allows a person to obtain a learner’s
permit at age 15 years and 10 months. The permit requires adult supervision for
the first six months and prohibits unsupervised driving for the next six months
from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
An effort proposed by Rep. Robert Valihura Jr.,
R-Talleyville, would start the restriction an hour earlier.
The Republican-led initiative would prohibit teens from
obtaining a learner’s permit until their 17th birthday. The first six months
still would be supervised and unsupervised night driving would be prohibited
until age 18.
Restrictions on teen passengers would not be changed.
Driver’s education also would remain a licensing requirement for anyone younger
The proposed measures unveiled March 24 include lowering the
threshold for driver’s license points and penalties for motorists under age 22,
and barring young drivers from carrying non-family, teen passengers at night.
House Majority Leader Wayne Smith has attached his name to
an initiative likely to receive quite a bit of attention. He is proposing to
establish an Internet-accessible database with the driving record of Delaware
drivers younger than 26.
Smith, R-Brandywine, told The Associated Press it
could help protect young people by allowing parents to determine whether they
are hanging out with unsafe drivers.
Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said he
understands the safety concerns on teen drivers. But raising the age limit by a
year isn’t the answer, he said.
He told The News Journal the state should look more
toward eliminating distractions, such as cell phones, and educating young
drivers as best as possible.