Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Kentucky Senate Passes Graduated Driver's License Bill

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, March 15, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body

Transportation Cabinet Legislative Priority Measure Moves Closer to Becoming Law

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Senate this afternoon provided a unanimous 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 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.

“Highway safety is a high priority of 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 has made impassioned pleas for its passage at every stop in the legislative process. “I’ve lost a teenage granddaughter in an auto accident, and I can assure you that one never really gets over a loss like that.” Rep. Burch said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through an experience like that,” Burch added.

A strong supporter of the bill, Sen. Julie Denton (R-Louisville), offered a parent’s perspective on today’s GDL legislation. “As a mother of teenage boys, I have heard many heartbreaking stories about inexperienced teen drivers. Hopefully, this bill will help reassure anxious parents and enhance safety for our children.”

“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 bill protects our teens from themselves. I think it’s a very good measure, and that’s why it has my endorsement,” 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 support.”

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 deeply appreciate the action taken today by the Senate.”

The measure now moves to the Kentucky House for concurrence. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have a Graduated Driver’s License Program.