The Iowa Senate has voted to require teen drivers to have more time behind the wheel before they can get an “intermediate” driver’s license. Under current law, 16 and 17 year olds with an “instruction permit” must have a clean driving record for at least six months before they can get an intermediate driver’s license.
The bill the Senate has approved would extend that period from six months to a full year. Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, says while Iowa was the first state in the nation to adopt a “graduated” driver’s license system for teen drivers, Iowa has fallen behind the current standards other states have set for their young drivers.
“No law can prevent all accidents,” Bowman says. “But this law provides a good step in the right direction.” During debate of the legislation Democrats in the Senate rejected a Republican bid to allow parents who home-school their children to teach their kids driver’s ed rather than requiring those students to enroll in a course taught by a certified instructor.
Senator Nancy Boettger, a Republican from Harlan, says it’s “common sense” to forbid these home school parents from being the teacher of driver’s ed courses for their own kids. “It’s not that they are just going to shoot from the hip like any other parent. These are parents that work from curriculum, ” Boettger says.
“They are using very fine teaching materials and there’s nothing to say, no data to suggest that home-schooled drivers do any less better at driving than those that are taught in the public school.”
Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says “professional” driver’s ed instructors are necessary, because they see how the teen drives when they’re not under the “watchful eyes” of a parent.
“There is nothing more dangerous to children than driving. It is the number one (cause) of death of children,” Hogg says. “And so the answer to that is not to take away professional driver’s education.” Republicans charged it was about money, as most home school parents pay the local school district that teaches a driver’s ed course, however some do pay a private business that has certified instructors who teach student drivers.