Lawmakers pushing new national driving rules for teens

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WASHINGTON – Lawmakers are pushing for some new rules of the road designed especially with teenagers in mind.

If passed, the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act, also known as the STANDUP Act, would require teen to go through several more steps to get a driver's license. First introduced would also establish a nationwide standard for driver's license requirements.

As part of the proposal, a three-stage licensing process would be established. That process would begin with a learner’s permit stage of at least six months. After that, teens would be eligible for an intermediate license. An unrestricted license with full driving privileges would be available at age 18. Only people who have completed the first two phases would be able to get an unrestricted license.

There would be several restrictions with the learner’s permit and intermediate license, including a prohibition on nighttime driving and limits on passengers.

Proponents of graduated driver's licensing systems are effective in reducing the crash risk of new teen drivers.

Car accidents are the No. 1 killer of American teens. In Arizona, car wrecks involving teenage drivers have claimed nearly 900 lives in the past five years.

Most states, including Arizona, already have some type of graduated driver's license system in place. The requirements, however, vary state to state.

In Arizona, for example, a teen is eligible for a learner’s permit at age 15 years and 6 months. Novice drivers must have that permit for six months and complete a minimum of 30 hours of supervised practice, including at least 10 hours of nighttime driving. At 16, young drivers becomes eligible for the intermediate license, which includes a prohibition on unsupervised driving between midnight and 5 a.m., as well as a passenger restriction. Drivers with an intermediate license cannot have more than one passenger younger than 18. After six months with the intermediate license, teens become eligible for a full license.

Several changes would have to be made for Arizona's law to comply with the STANDUP Act.

One goal of the STANDUP Act is to standardize driver license requirements throughout the county.

If the STANDUP Act is passed into law, each state would be responsible for putting the new standards in place.