A former state senator whose son was killed in an alcohol-related car wreck joined with Governor Vilsack today to call for tougher restrictions on younger drivers.
Tony Bisignano joined the governor at Des Moines Lincoln — the high school where his son Nick would’ve graduated from this year had he not died in the drunk driving accident on December 27, 2004. They’re asking for what’s being called Nick’s law. It would among other things restrict nighttime driving, the number of passengers and cellphone use in the cars of minor drivers.
Governor Tom Vilsack told the students that the numbers show a need for change. Vilsack says it isn’t a reflection on the lack of confidence in young drivers, it’s what the statistics tell them. Vilsack says the study shows young drivers age 16 to 24 make up 17-percent of licensed drivers, but account for 24-percent of all traffic fatalities and 26-percent of all series injuries. Vilsack says far too many kids are getting hurt. He says between 2001 and 2004, 32-thousand Iowans 15-24 were injured in crashes. The governor says that’s larger than the size of most cities and towns in our state.
Bisignano says other important provisions of the law would require kegs to be registered and increase the penalties for adults who provide alcohol to minors. Fourteen of what Bisignano said were his son’s best friends sat on the stage behind him, and he said they need to lead the call for lawmakers to approve the new law. He says the students need to ask lawmakers to make the changes in the intermediate driver laws and the keg and liquor laws. Bisignano says we need to know where kegs go when they leave the store, “So that when we find them, we find the responsible adult who has contributed to minors. That has to be stopped. That’s the one thing we have to stop, is adult drivers contributing the problems of our kids.”
Bisignano says some parents might not like additional restrictions place on young drivers. But, Bisignano says, “Parent who think that they can’t wait for their kids to be sixteen so that they can pick up the younger brother and sisters because it’s been an inconvenience for ’em — slow down and step back. That little inconvenience could cost you one of your siblings, maybe three of their siblings at one time. And suffer that the rest of your life. So let’s don’t push our kids to become parents too soon by making them take the responsibility of driving the kids everywhere to all their activities because we become lazy and complacent because I’ve got somebody to do that for me now.”
Bisignano told the students they might not like the additional restrictions. But he says the adults are trying keep them from becoming another traffic death statistic from the age of 14 until the reach age 25 when studies show they’ve fully matured and are better drivers.
Eighteen-year-old Josh Evans was one of Nick Bisignano’s friends. Evans says there will be kids who don’t want the tougher driving restrictions.
Evans says, “Everyone’s gonna wanna drive, but I think if they push back the law a little bit, then we won’t have as many deaths and fatalities.” The proposed changes are part of the Keep Young Drivers Safe state initiative. To learn more, surf to www.IowaKYDS.org.