The Iowa Senate has voted to force teenagers with a learner’s permit to have a full year of supervised driving before they graduate to a license to drive alone.
Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, says extending the supervised driving period from six months to a full year gives parents and guardians more opportunities to teach teens how to drive in a variety of conditions.
“Especially since Iowa have four seasons, one being filled with snow and ice,” Bowman says.
If the bill becomes law, there’d be a new restriction for teenagers with an intermediate drivers license — which lets them drive without an adult.
“The first six months, the restriction would only allow for one passenger under the age of 18 to be in the vehicle with them unless it’s a relative,” Bowman says.
However, parents could choose to have their teen’s license marked to indicate unrelated teenagers are allowed as passengers.
“I have three children,” Bowman says. “Knowing their mother, there is no chance that my children will be exempted, but that’s up to each and every parent to decide.”
Reports indicate the most dangerous time for a driver is their first six months on the road and Bowman says that’s why he’s asking for these new restrictions for “novice” drivers. According to Bowman, 45 other states have similar restrictions for teenagers and some of those states extend the no-other-teens-in-the-car rule for a full year, not just six months.
“It’s not something unreasonable I dreamt up,” Bowman says. “This is something that most of our states in the union are doing. We’re way behind.”
Bowman, who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, says while the number of teen deaths from driving accidents is falling nationally, there’s been a slight increase in Iowa. A 2012 study from the All-State Foundation concludes the lives of 32 teenagers could be saved if legislators enact these new restrictions. Teenagers are three times as likely to crash when there’s more than one passenger in the vehicle.
AUDIO of Senate debate of SF115 (mp3 runs 9 minutes)
The bill to toughen teen driving rules in Iowa passed the senate on a 41-8 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.