From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
February 2, 1999
Contact: Janna Burleson, (512) 463-0123

West, Bivins file Graduated Drivers Licensing Bill

AUSTIN - State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) and Senator Teel Bivins (R-Amarillo) today filed a Graduated Driver Licensing bill in an effort to reduce the high number of teenage drivers who are killed or injured every year in Texas. SB 280 changes current driving laws by adding a six month "Intermediate" driving phase for drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 who have completed a basic driver's education course and have a one-year clean driving record. The "Intermediate" phase would require the driver to have a person over the age of 21 in the front seat between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.. The bill provides an exemption from this requirement for those driving to and from their place of employment.

More and more states have begun adopting various forms of graduating driver licensing programs. Currently, twenty two states restrict teenage drivers from driving during high-risk nighttime and early morning hours. In the Canadian Providence of Ontario, teen crashes involving injuries have declined by 66 percent since adopting a graduating licensing program in 1994.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that the death rate for 16-year-olds has doubled in the past two decades. While the overall death rate for drivers and older teenagers has been dropping, the rate for 16-year-olds has gone up dramatically. In Texas, motor vehicle crashes rank as the number one teen killer in Texas. Teen traffic deaths in Texas increased 4 percent in 1995 and 25 percent in 1996.

Senator West stated, "The purpose of graduated licensing is to gradually introduce novice drivers to more difficult driving situations in increments. SB 280 will make our streets and highways safer not only for newly licensed teen drivers, but for everyone who travels on Texas roads."

Senator Bivins added, "To a 16-year-old, few privileges are more coveted than the right to drive. If we add an additional step in the process of getting a driver's license, we might use this powerful motivator to cause teenagers to think a little more about safety before they are granted an unrestricted license."

Senate Bill 280 - GRADUATED DRIVER LICENSE PROPOSAL - 76th Legislative Session

INSTRUCTION PERMIT

Eligibility:
1. Must be 15 years of age or older, (current law) 2. Must have completed classroom phase of driver's education course and passed all parts of driver's license test except driving test. (current law)
Components:
1. May drive only if accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years of age or older. (modification of current law which is 18 years of age or older) 2. License must indicate on its face that it is instruction permit. 3. Driver and all passengers are required to wear safety belts at all times.

INTERMEDIATE LICENSE

Eligibility:
1. Must be at least 16 years of age (but less than 18).
2. Must have completed all phases of driver's education course; passed all parts of driver's license test; and met all current requirements for a Class C driver's license. (current law)
3. Must have no traffic convictions within a one year period preceding the date of the application for intermediate license.
Components:
1. May not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years of age or older, or, unless driving between work and home.
2. Driver and all passengers are required to wear safety belts at all times.

FULL LICENSE

Eligibility: 1. Must:
(a) be 18 years of age or older; or
(b) less than 18 years of age and have held an intermediate license or hardship license for at least six months and have no traffic convictions within six months before the date of application for a full license.
Components:
1. Full driving privileges

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