New restrictions on young drivers will save lives, other states show

You may recall I have mentioned the many and frequent statistics and other information we receive in legislative committee hearings, making it difficult to comprehend them all.

For instance, it was surprising to learn that more than 7,000 people are injured or killed every year on Kansas roads because of crashes involving a teen driver.

We had the opportunity to combat these numbers by modifying our state?s driver?s licensing system. States that have already implemented similar updates have seen their number of teen crashes cut in half.

We had legislators? children lobbying their parents to leave the law alone, but the testimony in support of these changes was overwhelming, and the bill (HB 2143) passed by a huge margin.

The graduated driver?s licensing system goes into effect Jan. 1, 2010. It was modeled after systems already in place in 48 other states, but modified to reflect Kansas? rural roots. This bill does not change the age at which teens may obtain a license and it does not make any changes to the existing farm-related driver?s permit.

It will make the following modifications:

n Requires every teen to hold a learner?s permit for 12 months before obtaining a restricted or a full license.

n Limits teen drivers to no more than one teen passenger during the first six months of full licensing.

n Limits late-night driving to 9 p.m. during the first six months of full licensing, unless driving to and from work or school.

n Use of?cell phones and other wireless devices is?prohibited while driving until teens complete the six-month period of passenger and late-night driving restrictions. An exception is made for reporting emergencies.

I was pleased to support this legislation, which will not only give Kansas teens more experience behind the wheel, but will save lives and make Kansas roads safer for all of us

You may read House Bill 2143 at: by clicking on ?I want to find? and then on ?Full text of bills.? For more information on what this bill does, visit

I hope all parents see this as an opportunity to instruct and observe their teens, and not simply as an inconvenience. Is it an inconvenience? Yes. Is it worth the inconvenience? Definitely!

You may e-mail me at, or write me at either 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861 or at Kansas State Capitol Building, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. If you are coming to Topeka, call me at: 785-296-7636.

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