Archive for Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kansas’ new law to affect teen drivers

January 7, 2010

As of Jan. 1, there's a new law affecting the licensing system that aims to save teen lives on the road.

While teen drivers are currently highly over-represented in traffic crashes in Kansas, a new law hopes to change that by giving teens more experience before driving unrestricted on our roadways.

In March, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed into law a graduated driver's licensing bill that changes the way Kansas will issue driver's licenses.

The law went into effect Jan. 1. The law allows youth to obtain a learner's permit at age 14, which they must hold for one full year before obtaining a restricted or full license. These teens must drive only when accompanied by a parent or adult over the age of 21.

According to the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, at age 15 teens are eligible for a restricted license once they have successfully completed a driver's education course. At this time, teens may drive unsupervised to or from work and school. They may transport siblings and adult passengers but cannot transport nonsibling passengers under the age of 18.

Teens can obtain a full license at age 16, says KTSRO, but will have to abide by certain restrictions during the first six months. These teens are allowed to transport no more than one nonsibling passenger under the age of 18 and may not drive past 9 p.m. unless traveling to or from work or school.

KTSRO states the use of wireless communication devices, such as cell phones, is prohibited during all licensing stages until the six-month period of passenger and late-night driving restrictions are completed.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens make up only 7 percent of the driving population but are involved in 14 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Teens also account for 28 percent of the cost of motor vehicle crashes nationwide, while they represent only 14 percent of the nation's population. In Kansas, 51 people were killed and more than 5,400 people were injured as a result of teen crashes in 2008.

The new graduated driver's licensing law will allow teens more time to gain experience on the roadway while limiting known distractions and other factors that contribute to teen traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities.

For additional information on these new laws, visit www.ktsro.org.

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