Colorado bill would keep teens' eyes on the road

| 4/13/2005

Teen drivers in Colorado won’t be able to drive their friends around – at least until they’ve got a little more experience behind the wheel – if a pending bill passes in the state senate.

The measure, SB36, states that for the first six months they have their licenses, teens would not be allowed to have passengers in the car who are minors. Drivers who have had their license for six months to a year would be allowed to carry one passenger younger than 21. All restrictions would be removed after teens have been licensed for a year.

The bill does make exceptions for immediate family members. However, an earlier amendment to the bill – which included exceptions if the child had a parent’s written permission – was shot down in the House after lawmakers said the law would be too difficult to enforce.

If the bill passes, the law will be considered a “secondary offense,” meaning teens could not be cited unless they were pulled over for another offense.

During committee hearings for the bill, representatives from AAA, the Colorado State Patrol and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department said that inexperienced teen drivers are more likely to take bigger risks and get distracted by their friends, which makes them more likely to end up in an accident.

“If you want to talk about harsh, it’s being awakened at 2 a.m. by the State Patrol, telling you your son has been killed,” Farland Bottoms of Highlands Ranch, CO, said during an interview with the Denver Post.

Bottom’s 17-year-old son was killed in a car accident eight years ago.

The current wording of the bill would also ban teens from driving overnight except in a medical emergency, but the committee delayed action until an amendment could be made for teens that need to drive at night for work or family reasons.