New license plate design to be issued by New York State in 2010Enlarge Photo
Being involved in my first road accident at 17, with a light pole protruding from the side of my 1989 Mercury Cougar, I was well aware I was not fully ready to handle the responsibility of driving a vehicle, and now it appears the NHTSA is also beginning to notice the needs of younger drivers.
David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is endorsing the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act. This is a push for states to require more training of young drivers before they would receive unrestricted licenses.
The bill, creatively acronym-ed STAND-UP, was first introduced in April 2009. The goal of the act is to set minimum standards for graduated driver licenses and states that do not comply within three years would lose some federal highway funding.
"The STAND-UP act is a great piece of legislation and we are very supportive," Strickland said at a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing. "Graduated driver's licenses are the foundation for teaching young drivers how to be good citizens of the road."
The bill would not allow anyone under the age 18 to drive at night, while unsupervised. It also bars the use of communication devices and limits their passengers to no more than one non-family member under the age of 21. Also, one would not be able to obtain their full licenses until 18.
Research shows that states with a graduated driver licenses program have fewer crashes, with Nevada being the only one without a three-phase program.