Congress to mull teen license restrictions

March 9, 2011 at 6:06 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- A bill in Congress would require uniform graduated driver's license programs in all 50 U.S. states to reduce teen deaths and injuries, its sponsors say.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., are introducing the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act, which would have the nation follow New York's lead by establishing strong minimum requirements for graduated driver's licenses coast to coast.

Currently, every state has some version of a GDL system, but the requirements vary widely and are very weak in some states. For instance, six states allow for learner's permits to issued to drivers as young as 14; three states have no regulations for night driving for teen drivers; and one state allows for a 16-year-old to receive an unrestricted license, Gillibrand said.

The legislation would call on states to establish GDL systems with minimum requirements the include:

-- Prohibiting night driving during intermediate stage.

-- Passenger restrictions during learner's permit and intermediate stage of no more than one non-family member under the age of 21 may travel with a learning teenage driver.

-- Prohibiting non-emergency use of cell phones as well as text messaging.

-- Learner's permits to be issued at age 16, non-restricted drivers licenses at age 18.

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