A key Republican in the state legislature expects only limited support for the suggestion that teenage drivers face new restrictions. Tama Representative Lance Horbach says it’s too controversial to try and limit the number of passengers a new driver can carry, or their right to drive at night — especially in rural Iowa. Horbach says lawmakers should look for ways to help teens become better drivers, not just punish them.
Horbach says teenagers are easy targets because they don’t vote, and notes there are also safety concerns with the performance of elderly drivers but lawmakers aren’t going to address those “because they do vote.” Horbach says a lot of the ideas seem to be from old bills that came up and were voted down in previous years. Spurred by a fatal crash last summer, he says those are now being “piled on” so the legislature will consider them again.
But Democratic Senator Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls says he thinks there’s more support for teenage driving restrictions than people realize, and he points to a recent survey. Triple-A Auto Club has endorsed three of those proposals, and 93-percent of the members of the regional Triple-A chapter favor the restriction on youth cellphone use while driving. “Presumably, those are voters as well,” he notes. 77-percent favor restrictions on nighttime driving, and as far as having passengers in the car, he says 68-percent favor making it only one passenger, who’s not related to the driver.
Danielson says he was leery of the cellphone ban too, until he read a study done by Ford. Danielson says, “When you put a cellphone in a teenager’s hand, this study says their error rate goes to almost 60-percent.” For all drivers, he says it only goes to 13-percent, “so there’s something going on there.” He says that’s why lawmakers need to consider limiting cellphone use. Senator Danielson says in the end he thinks most of the new restrictions will pass.