Archive for Thursday, January 15, 2009

Protect our young drivers

January 15, 2009

To the editor:

The past three years several organizations interested in reducing crashes involving young drivers, including AAA, have advocated strengthening the Kansas graduated driver licensing (GDL) system before the Kansas Legislature.

The evidence, the research about teen driving and what works to reduce crashes is abundantly clear. The attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and behaviors of Kansas parents and teens are well-documented and in support of improvements. Even 65 percent of Kansas teens approve of GDL.

A bill with two effective improvements is being presented in the Kansas Legislature. To protect against their greatest risks, it requires new drivers to hold a learner’s permit with supervised driving for one year, instead of six months, and adds an intermediate stage of licensing that extends supervised driving after 9 p.m. for six months longer at age 16 and limits the number of nonsibling passengers they can carry for the same short period. The current farm permit remains unchanged.

An intermediate stage of licensing is present in 47 other states. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found states with four components of effective GDL systems reduced fatal crashes by 21 percent and injury crashes by 36 percent. The Kansas proposal would increase the number of components in our GDL system from two to four.

The time has come to adopt these changes so that Kansas parents can have an effective system of licensing to help them protect their teens during the most dangerous time of their lives.

James Hanni

Executive vice president,

Kansas Region, AAA

Topeka

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