[r53] Rep. Cherry Sponsors Stricter Guidelines for Teen Drivers (4/15/2009)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Start Date: 4/15/2009 All Day
End Date: 4/15/2009
(STATEHOUSE) April 15, 2009 - The Indiana House of Representatives today passed a bill that places stricter guidelines on the state's youngest drivers. Senate Bill 16, co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield), passed by a vote of 93-6.

"By placing tougher guidelines on teen drivers, we can drastically reduce the number of Hoosiers killed each year in car accidents," said Rep. Cherry. "Teen drivers can be good drivers, but they lack the experience to prevent them from being a hazard on the road for themselves and for other drivers."

SB 16 includes these guidelines:

- The minimum age for a learner's permit is increased from 15 to 15 years, 180 days.

- The minimum age for driver's licenses is increased from 16 years, 30 days to 16 years, 180 days.

- Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while using a cell phone, except when making an emergency call, and from carrying passengers under the age of 25 for the first 180 days of receiving their licenses.

- Teenage drivers are required to have 50 hours of supervised practice, including 10 hours at night, before receiving a license.

- Nighttime driving hours for teenagers are restricted.

- An interim study committee is established to review the components of driver education and the statistics of moving violations accrued by individuals less than 18 years of age.

Sixteen-year-old drivers are involved in 38 percent fewer fatal crashes and 40 percent fewer crashes with injury if their state has at least five of seven common components in its graduated driver licensing program, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Indiana currently has two of the seven GDL components. SB 16 will provide Indiana with six of the seven.

"Some rural areas and farming communities may object to this legislation, however, statistics show higher fatality rates occur in rural communities," Rep. Cherry said. 

From 1999 to 2004, there were 169 drivers, ages 16-17, who died in motor vehicle crashes on Indiana's rural roads, compared to 32 on urban roads. 

If signed into law, the portions of the bill addressing permitting, licensing and minimum practice driving time will be effective July 1, 2010. Distraction issues, such as prohibition of cell phones, passenger limitations and curfew limitations will be effective July 1, 2009. 

Contact Rep. Cherry by e-mail at h53@IN.gov, by phone at 1-800-382-9841 or by mail at the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. To receive Rep. Cherry's weekly e-newsletter, sign up at www.in.gov/h53.