As of now a total of 42 states allow teenagers under 16 years to earn a learners permit. Of these states, seven offer permits to fourteen-year-olds. Laws differing by state, allowing young drivers certain privileges and restrictions such as a curfew, number of passengers allowed or licensing age. Representatives Tim Bishop, Michael Castle, and Chris Van Hollen, Jr. began the push for a national standardization of driving permits and licenses April of 2009. The legislative act, dubbed the STAND UP Act, would establish minimum federal requirements for state laws and set a 3 year time frame from enactment for states to conform to the new federal standards.
The www.saferoads4teens.org, website dedicated to this piece of legislation, gives an overview of the STANDUP ACT as follows:
- States must meet the following requirements under the STANDUP Act:
- Three stages of licensing – learner’s permit, intermediate stage, and full licensure – should be used
- Age 16 should be the earliest age for entry into the learner’s permit process
- Nighttime driving while unsupervised should be restricted during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages, until full licensure at age 18
- Driving while using communication devices (cell phone calls, texting) should be prohibited at least until full licensure at age 18
- Unrestricted, full licensure should occur no earlier than age 18
- Passengers should be restricted – no more than one non-familial passenger under age 21 unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle – until full licensure at age 18
- Any other requirement adopted by the Secretary of Transportation, such as a minimum duration of 6 months and a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving for a learner’s permit, may be included
- Compliance with the requirements within the first three years after enactment will make states eligible for incentive grants
- Three years are provided for states to meet the requirements, after which sanctions are imposed to encourage states to meet the requirements
This is a piece of legislation to keep an eye on, although it is still in the early stages it had the potential to affect drivers across the nation. For further information and updates on the Act’s happenings please visit the safe 4 roads legislative update page.