Iowa Urged to Toughen Rules on Teen Driving

April 1, 2015

A safety research organization is urging Iowa to toughen its rules for teenager driver’s licenses.

The Des Moines Register reports that a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says Iowa could cut its rate of fatal teen accidents in half if a stronger driver’s license law were adopted.

The institute says Iowa should increase its licensing age to 17 years old from the current 16. And the institute suggests Iowa not issue instructional permits until someone reaches age 16 instead of the current 14. The study further recommends not allowing teenage passengers when there is a teen driving; banning teenagers from driving after 8 p.m.; and requiring 70 supervised practice hours before issuing a driver’s license.

According to the report, 43 teenagers, ages 13 to 19, were killed in motor vehicle accidents in Iowa from 2012 to 2013.

Two lawmakers and the state’s chief highway safety expert said that it would be difficult to adopt tougher teen driver rules in Iowa, where many teenagers in rural communities rely on cars and pickups to drive to school, work and other activities.

“We have worked hard to provide the safest opportunities for our teens and for those who share the road with the teens,” Sen. Tod Bowman, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said. “But in a farm community in rural Iowa, some of these would be considered major inconveniences.”

Iowa Traffic Safety Office bureau chief Patrick Hoye expressed doubt that the state would raise the licensing age to 17 because of the Iowa’s rural demographics, but says that the state legislature and his agency have been working to reduce traffic deaths.

“We would support any changes that would show a reduction in youth fatalities,” Hoye said.

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