State bill draws attention to teen driving

By Staff
Nathan Strickland
Russellville’s A.W. Todd Centre hosted a press conference Tuesday to gather support for a proposed bill consisting of measures to help strengthen Alabama’s current graduated driver’s license statute.
Law enforcement throughout North Alabama were in attendance to hear what the bill had to offer.
Executive director of the Children First Foundation Christy Mehaffey said the current bill, which went into effect in 2004, was too “diluted” and “water downed” before it passed. Mehaffey said there are exceptions to the rule, but believes this bill will help save lives.
“This will be an educational type law,” Mehaffey said. “It is aimed to help educate teens a little better before letting them loose behind the wheel.”
AAA of Alabama statistics show that 708 teens from ages 15-19 were killed in traffic crashes between 2004 and 2008 just in Alabama.
AAA of Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram believes there should be support for this bill.
According to AAA of Alabama, teen driver’s lack of experience and risky driving behaviors causes more error and hazardous actions behind the wheel than all other drivers combined. Ingram hopes the bill will help ease the anxiety for some parents as their kids get their license.
If the bill passes, the entire state will be expected to abide by the laws set forth and teens that are unable to follow the rules will face penalties. It will be considered a secondary offense and will be punishable by extending the six-month rule as explained in stage two of the bill.
The main changes would include 15 year-olds will no longer be eligible for a learner’s permit, teens will have to wait until age 18 to obtain an unrestricted license, limiting the number of passengers in a vehicle from four to one and reducing the time teens have to drive during the overnight hours.
Alabama Sen. Roger Bedford said he will not support the bill and believes officials should give the laws that are already aimed at teen drivers a chance to work before considering other bills.