Michigan OKs restrictions on young drivers

| Thursday, December 09, 2010

A bill on its way to Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s desk for her expected signature is intended to make the state’s roadways safer by putting limits on novice drivers.

During the final hours of this year’s legislative session, the Senate voted 30-5 to advance a bill to the governor’s desk that would tweak the state’s 14-year-old graduated driver licensing law. House lawmakers had previously approved it.

The law affecting drivers age 17 and younger has three stages: a learner’s permit, intermediate license and regular license.

The changes sought in the bill – HB4493 – would affect drivers with intermediate licenses. Those drivers typically are in the first year of driving independently.

Rep. Richard LeBlanc, D-Westland, said the changes are aimed at minimizing distractions by tightening regulations.

“Young drivers and others utilizing our roadways will benefit from this new law,” LeBlanc said in a statement.

Currently, affected drivers must be off the roads between midnight and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by an adult, traveling back and forth to work or between home and school. The bill would move up by two hours to 10 p.m. the time that they must park their vehicles.

Also, drivers with intermediate licenses would be forbidden from having more than one non-family member under the age of 21 in the vehicle for the first six months, unless accompanied by an adult or traveling back and forth between home and school. Currently, Michigan is one of eight states without a GDL passenger limit.

The National Transportation Safety Board recently identified passenger limits for teen drivers as one of the rules that states need to adopt to help eliminate distractions for young drivers. Michigan law now doesn’t include any passenger restrictions.

According to figures provided by LeBlanc’s office, the risk of death increases 158 percent with two passengers and 207 percent with three or more passengers.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan, click here.

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