Kentucky House OKs stricter teen driving rules

| 2/15/2006

A bill that would require Kentucky teenagers to spend more time training before getting full driving privileges has passed the state’s House.

Lawmakers voted 89-3 to advance the bill to the Senate, where similar bills have died without a vote in the past three years.

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.

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, the bill – HB90 – calls for a 180-day training period for drivers between the ages of 16 and 18. 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.

After completing the permit period without a moving violation, drivers would get a six-month intermediate license.

Young drivers would be restricted from driving between midnight and 6 a.m. It also would prohibit more than one passenger under age 20 in a vehicle driven by a teen. 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.”