Stricter teen driving rules sought in Kentucky

| Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A legislative effort in the Kentucky General Assembly would require teenagers to spend more time training before getting full driving privileges.

Graduated driver’s license systems require teens to be issued an intermediate license for a period of time, and sometimes specify they drive under supervision and during only certain hours.

Transportation Cabinet Deputy Secretary Jim Adams recently told the interim Transportation Committee the agency would support graduated driver’s license training.

Kentucky House lawmakers approved a graduated driver’s license bill last year but the Senate rejected the effort.

State Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, and Sen. Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, have sponsored bills to bring the issue back before lawmakers during the session that started this month.

Burch and Harper Angel want a 180-day training period for 16-year-olds. During that time, they would have to complete 60 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours at night accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years of age.

An intermediate license could be obtained after driving with a permit for six months. Applicants cannot have any convictions on their driving record. They must have a parent or legal guardian certify that the teen has received a minimum of 60 hours of behind-the-wheel training.

Young drivers would be restricted from driving between midnight and 6 a.m. It also would prohibit more than two passengers in the vehicle under age 18 unless they are relatives. Exceptions would apply if driving to or from work or school or for an emergency.

If lawmakers approve the bill, Kentucky would be added to the list of about 40 states that already have graduated driver’s license systems that restrict young drivers.

A 2004 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that although most states’ graduated-licensing systems are too new for formal evaluation, “impressive crash and injury reductions have been reported.”

HB12 and SB13 are before their respective transportation panels.

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