Driving law may change for teens

But age to get license stands

Staff WriterJune 17, 2011 

— After a grim reading of Johnston County teen crash statistics, the House approved legislation Thursday night that would add new requirements to North Carolina's graduated licensing program for young drivers.

The measure keeps the age at which a young driver can test for an unrestricted adult license at 18.

Parents would have to sign logs showing that their kids had driven with adult supervision for at least 60 hours over several months, including some night driving, before teens could move up from the restrictive learner's permit.

After they earn the limited provisional license, a second signed log with 12 more hours would be required. The provisional license could be revoked immediately if the young driver was accused of a criminal moving violation.

The legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Johnston County Sen. David Rouser and championed in the House by his Johnston County colleague, Rep. Leo Daughtry. It reflected recommendations from parents, school, safety and law enforcement representatives shaken by the county's deadly record of crashes involving young drivers.

"This is not going to be believable to you, but from 2006 to 2010 we had 1,456 fatalities or injuries to children driving cars in Johnston County," Daughtry said on the House floor. "Going to a funeral with someone whose child was killed in an accident is the worst thing I've ever done, and I've been to about three in the past year."

Rouzer had persuaded a House committee Wednesday to make teens wait until age 19 before they received unrestricted adult licenses. But at Daughtry's request, the House voted to keep 18 as the age at which drivers can be licensed without having gone through the state's graduated licensing program.

Without debate, the House passed the bill on a vote of 104 to 2. Because it was amended in the House after its initial unanimous approval in the Senate, the bill was expected to receive another vote in the Senate late Thursday night or today.

bruce.siceloff@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4527

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