Stricter teen driving rules advance in Kentucky

| 2/2/2006

The Kentucky House Transportation Committee has approved a bill that 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 require them to drive under supervision and during only certain hours.

Kentucky has one of the highest teenage crash rates in the nation. Teenage drivers account for only 6 percent of the overall driving population in the state, but they are involved in about 18 percent of the state’s fatal crashes and more than 20 percent of all highway crashes.

To help combat the problem, Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, wants 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 they have received a minimum of 60 hours of behind-the-wheel training.

Young drivers would be restricted from driving between midnight and 6 a.m. The bill also would prohibit teen drivers from having more than one passenger in the vehicle under age 20. 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.”

HB90 now heads to the full House for further consideration.