Stricter teen driving rules approved in Kentucky

| 4/4/2006

Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed a bill March 28 requiring Kentucky teenagers to spend more time training before getting full driving privileges.

The driving restriction bill won final House passage March 20 on a 93-1 vote. The Senate unanimously approved it March 15.

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 will get a six-month intermediate license.

Young drivers will be restricted from driving between midnight and 6 a.m. It also prohibits more than one passenger in the vehicle under age 20. Exceptions will apply if driving to or from work or school or for an emergency.

The new rules add Kentucky 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.”

The new rules take effect Oct. 1.