Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/11/2004 03:20 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 213-PROVISIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE                                                                                           
CHAIR ANDERSON  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  BILL  NO.  213,  "An Act  relating  to  a  provisional                                                               
driver's  license and  to  issuance of  a  driver's license;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
Number 1325                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  moved  to  adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS),  Version 23-LSO786\X,  Luckhaupt, 1/29/04,  as a                                                               
work draft.   There being no objection, Version X  was before the                                                               
[Note:  Version X was the  same version adopted and reported from                                                               
the House Transportation Standing Committee as CSHB 213(TRA).]                                                                  
Number 1339                                                                                                                     
LINDA  SYLVESTER,   Staff  to  Representative   Bruce  Weyhrauch,                                                               
introduced  HB   213  on  behalf  of   Representative  Weyhrauch,                                                               
sponsor, and  talked about CSHB  213(TRA) [and  the corresponding                                                               
Version X]:                                                                                                                     
     This  bill  deals  with  the  process  by  which  young                                                                    
     drivers get their Alaska  driver's license.  Currently,                                                                    
     the system  is two-tiered.   There's  a permit  that is                                                                    
     required.   You are eligible  to get a permit  when you                                                                    
     are 14  years old.   Alaska law requires that  you hold                                                                    
     the  permit  for six  months  before  testing for  your                                                                    
     driver's license  at age 16.  ... If you are  under 18,                                                                    
     regardless of  when you  got your  permit, you  have to                                                                    
     hold your  permit for  six months  before you  can test                                                                    
     for your license. ...                                                                                                      
     We're  adding  another   tier.    We  look   at  it  as                                                                    
     protections.   They  are very  simple protections,  and                                                                    
     what they do  is basically ... restrict  a young person                                                                    
     from driving around  in their car in the  middle of the                                                                    
     night with  their friends. ...  This period of  time is                                                                    
     only for six months. ...                                                                                                   
     The  idea is  that a  young driver  who is  learning to                                                                    
     drive is highly susceptible  to distractions, which are                                                                    
     very dangerous ... and fatal.   In the state of Alaska,                                                                    
     if  you are  a young  person and  you're going  to die,                                                                    
     you're  going  to die  from  one  or  two things.    It                                                                    
     toggles from year to year.   You're either going to die                                                                    
     from  a  car  accident  or you're  going  to  die  from                                                                    
     suicide.   We  can't do  much about  suicide, but  this                                                                    
     bill will likely save lives.                                                                                               
Number 1410                                                                                                                     
MS.  SYLVESTER  reported  that other  states  that  have  adopted                                                               
graduated   driver's  licensing   systems  [GDLs]   with  full-on                                                               
protections have  seen dramatic reductions in  accident rates and                                                               
deaths.  The standard is 20 percent, she said.  She continued:                                                                  
     So  we're  looking  at  protecting  the  kids  who  are                                                                    
     driving,  and  we're  also  looking  to  protect  other                                                                    
     Alaskans who  are driving around  on the roads  who are                                                                    
     being  hit and  injured  and  suffering property  loss,                                                                    
     loss of life,  loss of time from work. ...  It's a good                                                                    
MS. SYLVESTER noted that the bill spent a lot of time in the                                                                    
House Transportation Standing Committee.  She said:                                                                             
     We started  off with the mother  of all GDL bills.   We                                                                    
     had  it  at  a  year,  and we  thought  that  was  very                                                                    
     draconian.    We've  dropped it  down  to  six  months.                                                                    
     We've  put exemptions;  we want  to make  sure this  is                                                                    
     tailored to Alaska.  ... If you're in  your GDL period,                                                                    
     your provisional-license  period, you can  drive around                                                                    
     with your  siblings.  So this  way, if you live  out in                                                                    
     the  rural  area,  if you're  out  in  the  [Matanuska-                                                                    
     Susitna area]  and your parents  rely on the  ... young                                                                    
     driver to take the kids to school, that's allowed.                                                                         
     We've also got an exemption ...  for working.  If a kid                                                                    
     is working,  needs to be  driving in the middle  of the                                                                    
     night ...  to work in a  fish camp, you can  get a work                                                                    
     permit ...  to work in  the scope of your  business, or                                                                    
     driving to and from work. ...                                                                                              
     If  you're  in your  provisional  period  and you're  a                                                                    
     careless driver  and you're speeding  and you've  got a                                                                    
     ticket and  you've been convicted of  your ticket, then                                                                    
     that's going to  put you back, and you're  not going to                                                                    
     advance.  So  that's a neat idea for the  police.  It's                                                                    
     the carrot that  will keep the drivers safe  ... on the                                                                    
Number 1500                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO asked  if  the bill  limits  the number  of                                                               
siblings a young driver could have in the car.                                                                                  
MS.  SYLVESTER   read  from  the   bill,  page  2,   lines  20-22                                                               
[Section 3, paragraph (1)],  which says for the  first six months                                                               
after receiving  a provisional driver's  license [the  person may                                                               
not]  operate a  motor vehicle  that is  carrying any  passengers                                                               
except a parent,  legal guardian, sibling, or person  at least 21                                                               
years of  age.  In further  reply, she said statistics  show that                                                               
buddies provide fatal distractions for  these kids.  "So they get                                                               
six months  of handling all of  the nuances of driving,  and then                                                               
they've got some... experience under  their belt ... and can deal                                                               
with what the buddies are doing," she added.                                                                                    
Number 1606                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked what  "proof satisfactory" meant in                                                               
the context of HB 213.                                                                                                          
MS. SYLVESTER replied:                                                                                                          
     What you're referring to is  a certification before you                                                                    
     get your  provisional license; ... a  parent, guardian,                                                                    
     or  employer is  certifying that  while the  kid had  a                                                                    
     permit, they've  got lots of  time driving.   And we're                                                                    
     saying 40  hours.  So  when you  ... bring your  kid to                                                                    
     [the  Division of  Motor Vehicles]  you're signing  the                                                                    
     statement  that you're  accepting  legal liability  for                                                                    
     your child driving.  And  on that statement you're just                                                                    
     saying that  ... they've got  [the 40 hours  of driving                                                                    
     experience].  We wanted to  leave it open-ended for the                                                                    
     Division of  Motor Vehicles.   It's a form;  there's no                                                                    
     ... enforcement  of it.   It ...  is a  very open-ended                                                                    
     item  that serves  to  heighten  people's awareness  of                                                                    
     what ... standard ... is necessary.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  restated,  "So,  what  you're  actually                                                               
asking for is that I've driven that much time with my kids."                                                                    
MS. SYLVESTER responded, "Don't  forget the nighttime ... driving                                                               
and driving  in inclement weather.   A lot of people  don't think                                                               
those things  through, so it's  an educational tool."   She added                                                               
that   it's  simple   and   innocuous,   but  highly   effective,                                                               
statistically speaking.                                                                                                         
Number 1690                                                                                                                     
KEVIN  E.  QUINLAN,  Chief, Safety  Advocacy  Division,  National                                                               
Transportation Safety  Board (NTSB),  Washington, D.C.,  spoke in                                                               
support  of  HB  213,  noting that  members  had  two  documents:                                                               
written   testimony  he'd   highlight  and   a  list   of  safety                                                               
recommendations  entitled  "NTSB:    Most  Wanted  Transportation                                                               
Safety  Improvements 2004."   He  said  NTSB is  an   independent                                                               
federal accident-investigation agency.   Although it investigates                                                               
airplane   accidents  and   so  forth,   it  also   does  highway                                                               
investigations.    Emphasizing  that   NTSB  isn't  a  regulating                                                               
agency, he explained:                                                                                                           
     We  don't  tell you  or  the  states  what to  do.  ...                                                                    
     Rather, we ask you to do  the right thing, based on our                                                                    
     investigations, and it's really up  to you to adapt the                                                                    
     recommendations  to fit  your  state.   That said,  the                                                                    
     safety  board is  known for  its  scientific rigor  and                                                                    
MR. QUINLAN  said 90 percent  of transportation  fatalities every                                                               
year happen on  the highway, and 40 percent of  teen deaths occur                                                               
in  traffic  crashes  -  it's  the leading  cause  of  death  for                                                               
teenagers.  In Alaska, teens  constitute 7 percent of the driving                                                               
population, but are  17 percent of the drivers  in fatal crashes;                                                               
26 percent of the fatalities in  Alaska involve teen drivers.  In                                                               
terms  of teen  passengers,  two-thirds  of teen  vehicle-related                                                               
deaths occur in vehicles driven by other teens.  He continued:                                                                  
     One of the  things that's not in the  testimony is that                                                                    
     the  nation as  a whole  - and  probably Alaska,  but I                                                                    
     haven't   checked  your   statistics  on   this  -   is                                                                    
     experiencing  an  increase  in   the  number  of  young                                                                    
     drivers.   It's  called  the "baby  boomlet," and  that                                                                    
     increase is 25  percent.  That means ...  you have more                                                                    
     in  that age  group,  so you  have  more drivers,  more                                                                    
     crashes,  more fatalities.   That's  the  way it  would                                                                    
     normally work.                                                                                                             
     Teen drivers also do about  20 percent of their driving                                                                    
     at  night, but  50  percent of  the  fatalities are  at                                                                    
     night.  So  there's another issue.  What  we've seen is                                                                    
     that  the system's  broken.   The system  doesn't teach                                                                    
     our  young people  to drive.   It  teaches them  how to                                                                    
     pass a test, and the fix  for that is to give them more                                                                    
     experience in a  supervised, safe setting.   GDL is the                                                                    
     answer;  it's  not  new,  and it  works  in  the  other                                                                    
Number 1850                                                                                                                     
MR. QUINLAN continued:                                                                                                          
     You've  heard some  discussion  of  what a  three-phase                                                                    
     system is.   Now, Alaska has the  learner's permit with                                                                    
     the  six-month mandatory  holding  period.   Supervised                                                                    
     training  is very  important.   Most  states select  50                                                                    
     hours.   And crash- and violation-free  driving is very                                                                    
     important.   So you can identify  the high-risk drivers                                                                    
     early and remediate.                                                                                                       
     The new phase is an  intermediate phase.  Six months is                                                                    
     the minimum because  most of the effect  is achieved in                                                                    
     the  first six  months, but  it does  continue up  to a                                                                    
     year.   We recommend  a year, but  six months  is fine.                                                                    
     In that  phase, there  are three restrictions  that the                                                                    
     safety board recommends.                                                                                                   
     One is a nighttime  driving restriction, and the reason                                                                    
     is   that   the   cues    are   different   at   night.                                                                    
     Unfortunately, the people that  have the best reflexes,                                                                    
     that is,  teenagers, have the worst  driving record and                                                                    
     the worst crash  record.  I know  Alaska conditions are                                                                    
     different:  you  could have nighttime driving  at 4 ...                                                                    
     p.m.   That's fine.   The real  message is, we  need to                                                                    
     give  them lots  of  nighttime  driving experience  and                                                                    
     lots of driving experience that's supervised.                                                                              
     We also recommended a passenger  restriction of zero or                                                                    
     one, to last  at least six months,  again, preferably a                                                                    
     year.   The  reason we  picked one  [passenger] is  for                                                                    
     security:  ...  in  some areas  you  need  to  consider                                                                    
     security issues  unless they're  supervised.   And then                                                                    
     they can  have as many people  as they want.   You need                                                                    
     an adult supervising driver.                                                                                               
     The  last one  is a  cell-phone restriction.   This  is                                                                    
     just for the provisional phase.   Now, some states have                                                                    
     banned  handheld  cell   phones.    We've  investigated                                                                    
     crashes  involving  teen  drivers where,  clearly,  the                                                                    
     distraction was  the cell  phone.  ...  I have  to tell                                                                    
     you,  I was  unconvinced  when I  looked  at the  first                                                                    
     investigations  on this,  but then  I came  to realize,                                                                    
     with the data  that we had, that the  distraction for a                                                                    
     teenager  in the  learning phase  and the  intermediate                                                                    
     phase  is very  analogous  to that  of having  multiple                                                                    
     teen  passengers,  again,   crash-  and  violation-free                                                                    
Number 1941                                                                                                                     
MR. QUINLAN continued:                                                                                                          
     We  have  39  states  with  a  three-phase  system;  36                                                                    
     states,  including Alaska,  have some  elements, and  I                                                                    
     mentioned that one of a  graduated licensing system; 37                                                                    
     have  nighttime restrictions;  and the  newer one  that                                                                    
     almost  didn't exist  three years  ago,  26 states  now                                                                    
     have passenger restrictions. ...                                                                                           
     You  have   in  the   testimony  a  summary   sheet  of                                                                    
     effectiveness in other  states.  And I'd  like to point                                                                    
     out  a couple  to  you really  quickly:   Michigan,  25                                                                    
     percent  overall  reduction   in  crash  rates;  that's                                                                    
     normalized data,  so that's good,  hard data,  and it's                                                                    
     done  by  a  highly-esteemed,  scientific  institution.                                                                    
     The  same thing  in  North Carolina,  but  look at  the                                                                    
     57 percent reduction in fatal crashes.                                                                                     
     There is one thing that's  not in there, on California.                                                                    
     There's  a   recent  report  from  California   on  the                                                                    
     reduction  in teen  alcohol-related fatal  crashes from                                                                    
     GDL, a  totally unexpected consequence of  ... enacting                                                                    
     GDL.   It's done by  the [Automobile] Club  of Southern                                                                    
MR. QUINLAN also pointed out that  in Pennsylvania there was a 58                                                               
percent reduction  in fatalities.   Turning to the  "most wanted"                                                               
list, he  noted that  GDLs are  right up  there with  measures to                                                               
keep aircraft  from exploding  in mid-air  and running  into each                                                               
other  on  the  ground.    "We  take  this  very  seriously,"  he                                                               
remarked.  "It will actually save more lives."                                                                                  
Number 2042                                                                                                                     
MR. QUINLAN continued:                                                                                                          
     Let me just wrap up by  saying ... I like to read state                                                                    
     constitutions,  and most  states in  the United  States                                                                    
     have the word  "safety" in Article I.   Alaska doesn't,                                                                    
     but it  does say that you  have the right to  life, and                                                                    
     in Article VII it talks  about public health and public                                                                    
     welfare.  ...  That's what we are  really talking about                                                                    
     We  strongly support  HB  213.   We  know this  measure                                                                    
     works; it's one of the  most effective actions that you                                                                    
     can  take to  prevent  teen deaths  and  the deaths  of                                                                    
     others in  teen crashes.   And the  best part  is, it's                                                                    
     not just this year, it's  every year. ... It passes all                                                                    
     of the tests,  and the one that's most  important to me                                                                    
     is  that it  passes the  commonsense test  because teen                                                                    
     drivers  just need  experience driving.   We  cannot do                                                                    
     what  Germany  does and  require  270  hours of  driver                                                                    
     education.   That's not  going to happen.   But  we can                                                                    
     give them  lots of  driving experience.   And  I think,                                                                    
     finally, it's just the right thing to do.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if "teens"  refers to  anyone younger                                                               
than 20 years of age.                                                                                                           
MR. QUINLAN said  that's how the data is "cut."   The states make                                                               
the age  what they want:   14 in  some, 15  or 16 in  others, for                                                               
example, or [18] in New York.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   GATTO   remarked,   "If  we're   talking   about                                                               
statistics that  affect everybody  from 'a  minute under  20' all                                                               
the way down,  there has to be  some portion of this  that has no                                                               
effect.  ... It  only  applies to  six  months of  'teenagehood,'                                                               
while the rest of it is wild."                                                                                                  
MR. QUINLAN replied:                                                                                                            
     Let's hypothetically  say it's  16.   You have  to hold                                                                    
     the learner's permit for six  months.  You have to hold                                                                    
     the  other permit  for at  least six  - we  recommend a                                                                    
     year.   It's actually best  to carry it through  to 18,                                                                    
     as New  York does, because  then you get them  over the                                                                    
     hump of the inexperience, the -  I hesitate to say it -                                                                    
     ... testosterone.                                                                                                          
Number 2188                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  told  of   his  experience  with  his  two                                                               
daughters and the  two wrecked cars they produced  in their first                                                               
six months of driving.                                                                                                          
MR. QUINLAN  referred to  a television  news program  that showed                                                               
teen drivers in  a car with camera surveillance in  the car.  The                                                               
three  girls "still  blew a  stop sign"  because there  were teen                                                               
passengers in  the car.  He  explained that the first  six months                                                               
of driving  is a critical  time, an intermediate phase  when it's                                                               
important to restrict teen passengers.                                                                                          
Number 2230                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN noted  that Alaskan  weather can  be severe,                                                               
and said cell  phones are a safety feature for  drivers.  He also                                                               
commented that  if a car  breaks down  and the temperature  is 20                                                               
degrees below  zero, or if a  drunk driver is observed,  a person                                                               
needs to be able to call authorities.                                                                                           
MR. QUINLAN replied:                                                                                                            
     Every state that has  that [cell-phone restriction] has                                                                    
     an emergency exemption,  911 or whatever.   And it only                                                                    
     makes sense.  If you're  in an emergency, are you going                                                                    
     to be holding both hands  on the wheel and checking ...                                                                    
     the whiteout as  it comes to you?  Or  are you going to                                                                    
     be on  the phone, or  are you  going to stop  and call?                                                                    
     You're probably going to stop  and call, and that's the                                                                    
     safest. ... Of  course you'd want to have  a cell phone                                                                    
     in the car,  and of course you would want  the ... teen                                                                    
     driver to be able to call somebody to help them.                                                                           
Number 2340                                                                                                                     
CINDY  CASHEN, Executive  Director, MADD  [Mothers Against  Drunk                                                               
Driving],  Juneau  Chapter, testified  in  support  of HB 213  on                                                               
behalf of four of the MADD Alaska chapters:  Anchorage,                                                                         
Fairbanks, Juneau, and Mat-Su.  She said this is the MADD Alaska                                                                
chapters' number-one priority.                                                                                                  
TAPE 04-11, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2350                                                                                                                     
MS. CASHEN said:                                                                                                                
     We  feel   that  early  driving  experiences   must  be                                                                    
     required in  a lower-risk environment  through extended                                                                    
     restriction   of   no   alcohol   use,   primary   belt                                                                    
     enforcement,  limitations  on   nighttime  driving  and                                                                    
     teenage  passengers.   Appropriate restrictions  should                                                                    
     be lifted in stages, based on clean driving records.                                                                       
     According to  the Alaska Highway Safety  Office, in the                                                                    
     year  2000  in Alaska  there  were  over 3,800  crashes                                                                    
     involving 16-  to 20-year-old  Alaskan teenagers.   The                                                                    
     next year,  2001, it went up  ... by over 400.   In the                                                                    
     year 2000,  every two  and one-half  hours there  was a                                                                    
     teenager in Alaska being involved  in a crash.  In 1995                                                                    
     to the year 2000, that  five-year period, there were 64                                                                    
     Mat-Su  teen drivers  in motor  vehicle crashes  on the                                                                    
     highway  who  were  injured   seriously  enough  to  be                                                                    
Number 2299                                                                                                                     
MS. CASHEN continued:                                                                                                           
     I looked  up three  places, through the  Alaska Highway                                                                    
     Safety Office,  three Alaskan towns,  villages, cities,                                                                    
     to ... give  you a representation how it's  not just in                                                                    
     urban  areas.   It's all  over  Alaska.   In Kodiak  34                                                                    
     percent  of  their  crashes involve  teen  drivers;  in                                                                    
     Anchorage it's  28 percent; in Barrow  it's 26 percent.                                                                    
     The  evening crashes,  that would  be between  midnight                                                                    
     and  5 a.m.:   in  Kodiak, it's  22 percent  of evening                                                                    
     crashes involve  teenage drivers;  in Anchorage  and in                                                                    
     Barrow, they're  both 25  percent -  pretty substantial                                                                    
     numbers, and  these numbers can  be brought down  if we                                                                    
     have the GDL program.  The studies prove it.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD commented that he had personal                                                                          
experience with his children and hoped this bill would help them                                                                
"make it through these harrowing years."                                                                                        
Number 2257                                                                                                                     
MARTHA MOORE, Coordinator, Alaska Trauma Registry, Department of                                                                
Health and Social Services, testified that the department                                                                       
supports HB 213.  She explained:                                                                                                
     My  job is  to ...  maintain  and work  with an  injury                                                                    
     surveillance  system.    And   I  ...  look  at  injury                                                                    
     statistics in Alaska,  as well as do  research on them.                                                                    
     It's common  knowledge that teens are  at greatest risk                                                                    
     for traffic crashes and have  the highest motor vehicle                                                                    
     fatality rates.                                                                                                            
     Several years  ago, the  Associated Press  published an                                                                    
     article  with a  report  from a  20-year  study by  the                                                                    
     Insurance  Institute  for  Highway  Safety.    And  the                                                                    
     report  said ...  two important  and impressive  facts.                                                                    
     One  is  that  even  though the  death  rates  ...  for                                                                    
     crashes  were  declining,  [for] those  16  years  old,                                                                    
     their death rates had doubled  in the 20 years ... from                                                                    
     1975 to  1996.  And the  second thing it said  was that                                                                    
     the death  rate of  the 17-  to 19-year-olds  was twice                                                                    
     that of older drivers, but  the death rate for 16-year-                                                                    
     olds  was half  again as  much.   So,  it was  actually                                                                    
     three times that of the older drivers.                                                                                     
     The  reasons the  16-year-olds are  at  such high  risk                                                                    
     are, first and foremost,  youth, just sheer immaturity;                                                                    
     ...   secondly,    inexperience;   third,   risk-taking                                                                    
     behavior,  which is  common among  young people  and is                                                                    
     certainly  exacerbated  by   peer  pressure;  and  then                                                                    
     lastly,   distractions  while   driving,  which   would                                                                    
     certainly increase when other teens are in the car.                                                                        
Number 2175                                                                                                                     
MS. MOORE continued:                                                                                                            
     The  good  news is  that  since  1996, 39  states  have                                                                    
     adopted  graduated   licensing  programs.     This  has                                                                    
     drastically  lowered  the  death rates  and  the  crash                                                                    
     rates for 16-year-olds.                                                                                                    
     The  legislation   before  you  does   three  important                                                                    
     things.   And  it helps  youth to  gain the  experience                                                                    
     [they  need],  driving  under  the  supervision  of  an                                                                    
     adult.   It  puts off  full licensure  for six  months,                                                                    
     which from  the statistics evidently is  ... a critical                                                                    
     time -  that sixteenth year,  even six months  into the                                                                    
     sixteenth year -  for them to attain  the maturity they                                                                    
     need  to  be a  better  driver.    It removes  ...  the                                                                    
     highest   risk   factors   for  ...   six   months   of                                                                    
     unsupervised  driving  by   restricting  the  nighttime                                                                    
     driving and having teen passengers in the car.                                                                             
     I have  done research  on teen  driving in  Alaska, and                                                                    
     I've published a paper ["Comparison  of Young and Adult                                                                    
     Driver  Crashes in  Alaska Using  Linked Traffic  Crash                                                                    
     and  Hospital Data"]  in the  Alaska Medicine  Journal.                                                                  
     I'd be happy  to leave that with you.   Essentially, in                                                                    
     summary,  ... what  happens with  Alaskan teens  is not                                                                    
     unlike  the  rest  of the  country.  ...  The  economic                                                                    
     burden on the state is lopsided for teens as well.                                                                         
Number 2086                                                                                                                     
DUANE BANNOCK,  Director, Division of Motor  Vehicles, Department                                                               
of Administration, said the division is supportive of the bill.                                                                 
CHAIR ANDERSON, upon  determining no one else  wished to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
Number 2061                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  moved  to  report  CSHB  213,  Version  23-                                                               
LS0786\X, Luckhaupt,  1/29/04, out  of committee  with individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection, CSHB 213(L&C)  was reported  from the  House Labor                                                               
and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects