Indiana lawmaker calls for tougher teen driving rules

| 12/3/2007

In hopes of making the state’s roadways safer an Indiana state lawmaker wants to toughen teen driving restrictions.

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 20 in Indiana and the nation. During a 10-year period that ended in 2004, nearly 900 lives were lost in crashes involving teen drivers in the state, The Herald Argus newspaper reported.

Indiana law now allows teens to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. A probationary license can be obtained at 16 years and one month. A regular license is available three months later.

Rep. Joe Micon, D-West Lafayette, wants young drivers to wait a little longer to get behind the wheel. He is pursuing legislation that would make teens wait until they are 15 years and six months to get a learner’s permit. Probationary licenses could be awarded to driver’s education graduates at 16 years and six months. Without the class, teens would not be able to get a permit until 16 and would have to wait until 17 for their license.

Another provision sought by Micon would require teens with permits to complete 50 hours of supervised practice driving.

They also would need to carry a probationary license for six months, instead of the current three months. During the first three months, teen drivers could not transport other teens. After that, one minor passenger would be allowed during the probationary period.

Cell phones also would be prohibited for young drivers.

In addition, probationary drivers wouldn’t be allowed to be behind the wheel between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. throughout the week. Exceptions would be made for teens driving to and from school, work or religious activities.

Indiana law now prohibits such driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

The legislation can be considered during the regular session that begins in January 2008.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Indiana in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor