STATEHOUSE - 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. Cleo Duncan (R-Greensburg), passed by a vote of 93-6.
"Over the past 10 years, automobile accidents caused by teen drivers have resulted in 783 deaths in Indiana. Forty-one percent of those deaths were to teenagers. There have been several deaths and critical injuries to the young people in our district," said Rep. Duncan.
"By placing tougher restrictions on teen drivers, the number of Hoosiers killed in car accidents could be significantly reduced, ultimately saving the lives of many innocent people."
The following guidelines will be included in Senate Bill 16:
- The minimum age for a learner's permit is raised from 15 years old to 15 years, 180 days old.
- The minimum age for driver's licenses is raised from 16 years, 30 days old to 16 years, 180 days old.
- Drivers under the age of 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 after being licensed.
- Teenage drivers are required to have 50 hours of supervised practice, including 10 hours at night, before receiving a license.
- Nighttime driving hours are restricted for teenagers.
- An interim study committee is established to review the components of driver education and the statistics of moving violations accrued by individuals younger than 18.
Sixteen-year-old drivers are involved in 38 percent fewer fatal crashes and 40 percent fewer injury crashes if their state has at least five of seven common components in its graduated driver licensing (GDL) 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.
"Strengthening our GDL program will reduce traffic accidents and deaths and keep not only teens safer on our roads, but all motorists."
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. Duncan by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 1-800-382-9841 or by writing her at the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. Those interested in receiving Rep. Duncan's weekly e-newsletter may sign up at www.in.gov/h67.