Three U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would establish the same licensing requirements for teenage drivers across the country. The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STAND UP) Act would strengthen roadway safety, according to its sponsors. Currently each state establishes its own rules for new drivers.
If enacted, the STAND UP law would establish a three-stage licensing hierarchy–learner’s permit, intermediate stage, and full non-restricted license. The intermediate stage (a minimum of six months), which begins when the new driver’s learner’s permit expires, would remain in effect until the driver is 18 or older.
Additional requirements of the proposed legislation include the following:
- Learner’s permits issued at age 16 or older, and non-restricted drivers licenses issued at age 18
- Prohibit night driving during stage one and two
- Prohibit the use of wireless devices during stage one and two except in emergencies
- No more than one non-family member under the age of 21 may travel with driver operating on a learner’s permit, unless a licensed driver over the age of 21 is in the vehicle
States that decline to comply with the law would risk losing federal highway safety funding.
Those favoring a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program of this nature claim that “raising the learner’s permit to age 16 would reduce fatal crashes of 15 to 17-years-old’s by nearly 13 percent,” according to JusticeNewsFlash.com. Opponents maintain this inititiave would run counter to states’ rights. It’s unclear at this point whether the bill will go anywhere on Capitol Hill, however.
Under current Virginia law, texting while driving in the state is illegal regardless of the age of the motorist. And drivers under 18 in Virginia are prohibited from using any kind of wireless device in the car.