First-time teen drivers in Iowa would no longer be able to legally give a friend or neighbor a ride if a bill that’s cleared the Senate Transportation Committee becomes law. The bill stipulates that only siblings would be able to ride along in a car being driven by a teenager during the first six months the teen has what’s called an intermediate driver’s license, which they can get when they turn 16.
Senator Tom Hancock, a Democrat from Epworth, suggests having pals ride along is too great a distraction for the rookie driver. "It’s one thing to have your brother and sister with you versus your friends," Hancock says. "…You know, we’ve all, most of us, raised teenagers and (we) just want them to be more attentive."
Senator Mark Zieman, a Republican from Postville, says he was convinced by statistics showing new drivers have more accidents. "I’m going to support the bill. I get concerned in how far this legislature is going to go in being a nanny state, but we sure don’t want to lose our young people," Zieman says.
Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, warned of push back from parents unhappy kids can’t ferry teammates to early morning or late night athletic practices. In the first six months of holding that intermediate driver’s license, a 16-year-old would be able to have a passenger in the car that’s not a relative — if the driver’s parent or guardian is in the car, too.
The Senate Transportation Committee did not vote to forbid teens from texting while they’re driving, something safety researchers at the University of Iowa say would be a good idea after they’ve videotaped some teen drivers in eastern Iowa sending text messages — and not paying much attention to the road.