Massachusetts bill restricts young drivers

| 8/9/2005

If a Massachusetts lawmaker gets his way, new restrictions and requirements aimed at young drivers would be put in place.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Bradford Hill, R-Ipswich, now before the state’s House Transportation Committee, would require more practice behind the wheel, ban teenagers from using cell phones while driving and get parents more involved.

Law enforcement would be given greater power to enforce restrictions already in place, such as barring 16- and 17-year-olds from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. and banning teen drivers from having passengers under age 18 during their first six months behind the wheel.

“Right now, the law’s kind of a joke, because it’s a secondary offense, and police can’t pull you over for just that,” Hill told The Boston Globe. “We want to make it a primary offense … The first offense, you lose your license for 90 days; the second offense, six months; the third offense, you lose it for a year.”

To obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license, an applicant must be at least 16 and one half years old. At least 12 hours of driver’s education also must be completed with half of the time spent watching others drive and the remaining time practicing behind the wheel.

Hill’s bill – H1996 – would increase the requirement for young people to at least 12 hours behind the wheel during driver’s education and 30 more hours practicing under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian, The Globe reported.

If signed into law, the bill would allow a 5 percent auto insurance discount to new drivers who take an advanced driving course.