Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Senate Transportation Committee Provides Favorable Report on Graduated Driver's License Bill
Transportation cabinet legislative priority measure moves closer to becoming law
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Senate Transportation Committee this morning provided its stamp of approval for a bill which will expand the Commonwealth’s Graduated Driver’s License Program (GDL). The goal of GDL legislation is to curb the overall number of crashes involving teenage drivers, especially the high number of deadly crashes with teen involvement.
House Bill 90, as amended by the committee, creates an intermediate period of six months between the learner’s permit and a full, unrestricted license. During the intermediary phase, teenagers will have a full license with two restrictions on their driving privileges. The committee voted unanimously in support of the bill.
“Highway safety is a priority of the Transportation Cabinet and this administration,” said Governor Ernie Fletcher. “If we can ease young drivers onto the roadways by controlling their exposure to progressively more difficult driving situations, we feel we can reduce the number of crashes involving young drivers. A safer group of teen drivers will mean safer highways for all of us.”
Kentucky currently has one of the highest teen crash rates in the nation. Teenage drivers account for only 6 percent of the state’s driving population, yet they are involved in about 18 percent of fatal crashes in Kentucky and more than 20 percent of all highway crashes in the state.
Rep. Tom Burch (D-Louisville) sponsored the bill and made an impassioned plea before the Senate Transportation Committee today. “I’ve lost a teenage grand daughter in an auto accident,” Rep. Burch said. “I can assure you that one never really gets over a loss like that.”
Sen. Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green), who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said “This is a measure which will definitely enhance safety for our young people and should help us to reduce the fatality rate on Kentucky’s roadways.”
“We can all remember when we were 16-year-olds,” said Sen. David Boswell (D-Owensboro). “At that age you’re young and aggressive, and you think you’re going to live forever. As much as anything, this measure protects our teens from themselves. I think it’s a very good measure, and that’s why I supported it today,” Boswell continued.
“The Graduated Driver’s License is going to serve Kentucky by saving lives,” said Sen. Dick Roeding (R-Lakeside Park). “We have an obligation to make sure that our teens are better prepared, more responsible and more courteous drivers,” Senator Roeding continued. “That’s why this legislation has my wholehearted endorsement.”
Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert pointed out the success other states have had with a Graduated Driver’s License Program. “North Carolina and Michigan, for example, have done studies which have shown as much as a 25 percent reduction in crashes involving 16-year-old drivers, after passing GDL legislation,” said Secretary Nighbert. “These are the kind of positive results we’re striving for in Kentucky. We applaud today’s efforts by the Senate Transportation Committee.”
The measure now moves to the Senate floor for final consideration. GDL legislation overwhelmingly passed in the Kentucky House on Feb. 6. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have a Graduated Driver’s License Program.