Teens who want to get a license may soon have to spend twice as much time behind the wheel with mom, dad or some other adult.
The House of Representatives voted unanimously Thursday to mandate at least 50 hours of supervised practice before a teen under the age of 18 can get a license. The current requirement is for only 25 hours. SB1325 also doubles the number of those hours that must be practiced at night, to 10.
To accommodate those extra hours of required training, the legislation lets a teen obtain a learner’s permit upon turning 15 1 /2. That is a month earlier than now allowed.
Lawmakers also altered another provision: Under the terms of the bill, the person in the passenger seat has to be a parent, guardian or anyone else at least 21. The minimum age of the passenger has been 18.
Left unchanged in the proposal is that the parent or other adult can certify without further proof that the teen has, in fact, been on the road for the requisite number of hours. There is no mandate for professional driver training.
Thursday’s vote was a disappointment for the Arizona Automobile Association which had proposed some significant new restrictions on teen drivers.
In fact, AAA’s David Cowley said lawmakers "sidestepped’’ the real reforms that would actually save teen lives.
For example, the original legislation AAA crafted with Rep. Collette Rosati, RScottsdale, had proposed that 16- and 17-year-olds who had passed their driver’s test and had earned their Class G probationary license could have no more than one other teen in the vehicle.
According to AAA, a teen who has a single teen as a passenger is 40 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than a teen driving alone. Adding a second passenger boosts that figure to 86 percent. And a third teen passenger means the driver is 182 percent more likely to be in a crash.
The legislation still requires final approval by the Senate.