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Chrissie Cole
Chrissie Cole
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Bill Proposes Restricting Teen Drivers

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Nebraska could help save more teenagers’ lives with a law to keep them from driving at night, using a cell phone and having a crowd of passengers along while operating a vehicle, state lawmakers were told.

Chealander, testifying in front of Legislature’s Transportation Committee, supports a bill proposed by State Senator John Harms of Gering to tighten state teen driving laws in Nebraska. He further states it’s a “deadly mixture of immaturity, inattention and inexperience.”

Teenagers are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash if two or more teenagers are in the vehicle as passengers.

Since passing a graduated licensing law in 1999, Nebraska has seen a reduction in teen traffic accidents. The law eases young drivers into full driving privileges. Accidents involving 16 to 20-year-old drivers have declined 23 percent.

In January a report made by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said Nebraska still has room to improve upon their safety.

The bill Harm’s is proposing is backed by the Safety board, which would tighten teen driving laws in six main ways:

• Teens holding a provisional operator’s license – an interim step between a learner’s permit and a full-fledged license – could not drive with more than one passenger under age 21 and not a family member.

• Teen drivers could not use devices such as cell phones, text-messaging devices, laptop computers or personal digital assistants.

• Teens could not drive without an adult after 10 p.m. The current driving curfew is midnight.

• To obtain a full-fledged license, a teen driver would have to drive one year without traffic offenses on a provisional license.

• Before getting a provisional license, a teen driver would have to drive six months without traffic offenses on a learner’s permit.

• Teens who do not take a driver’s education course would have to practice driving at least 60 hours, including 10 hours at night, with a parent or other qualified adult to obtain a learner’s permit.

While no one testified in opposition, some members questioned whether it could be suggested that requiring the teaching of driver’s education in the schools might be effective for reducing teen accidents.