Two drivers’ education instructors spoke out at the statehouse this week, urging legislators to pass new driving restrictions for teenagers. J.R. Phillips owns “Auto Pilots,” a business based in Urbandale which offers drivers ed classes to a number of districts throughout the state — from Burlington to Council Bluffs — and “graduated” two-thousand Iowa kids last year.
Phillips says forbidding teens from giving rides to anyone but a relative makes good sense. Phillips also says forbidding teenagers from using a cell phone while driving makes sense because cell phones are a distraction, particularly for inexperienced drivers. Current law says parents or some adult should have ridden with a teen driver at least 30 hours before they may get a license, but Phillips says few parents know about that requirement. Phillips says parents need some guidance as to what kinds of driving skills their kids need to practice — like driving on city streets, on highways and in construction zones.
Curt Hanson has been teaching drivers ed in Fairfield for years and he says changes are needed. Hanson says when he learned to drive, there was a great deal of parental supervision because a family usually had just one car. Today, families often have cars for every teen or adult in the family, and Hanson says that makes it “easy for bad parents to be bad parents.”
Hanson also supports the proposal that would forbid teens from giving other teenagers a ride. Hanson says he’s been reading a book called “The Primal Teen” and it concludes the teen brain is wired differently so that when kids get together, they do bizarre things. Hanson predicts many parents will fight the one-passenger limit because they’re tired of acting as their child’s chauffeur. In addition to the proposals the two men endorsed, the Department of Public Safety is pushing for an 11 o’clock nighttime driving curfew for teenagers 17 and younger.