Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/01/2003 02:28 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 213-PROVISIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0377                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HOLM 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 0450                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LINDA SYLVESTER, Staff to  Representative Bruce Weyhrauch, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  spoke on behalf  of the bill's sponsor.   She                                                               
told the committee Representative  Weyhrauch introduced HB 213 at                                                               
the request  of Mothers Against  Drunk Drivers (MADD),  and while                                                               
the bill  does not address  drunk driving or sanctions  for drunk                                                               
driving, it  is a  commonsense approach  to addressing  a serious                                                               
problem every state in the  nation is experiencing.  That problem                                                               
is inexperienced, young, novice drivers, she said.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER   explained  that   under  current  law   when  an                                                               
individual turns  14 years old he/she  can go to the  Division of                                                               
Motor Vehicles  (DMV), take a  knowledge test, and get  a permit.                                                               
That individual  is required to  hold the permit for  six months.                                                               
When the individual is 16 years  old, he/she can take a road test                                                               
and if  passed, that 16-year-old is  able to go out  on the roads                                                               
and drive with  no restrictions at all.  Ms.  Sylvester said that                                                               
the period  of time when a  16-year-old gets a license  is a very                                                               
dangerous time.   She told the members that  statistics show that                                                               
there  is  a  huge  spike   in  car  accidents,  fatalities,  and                                                               
injuries, and HB 213 seeks to address that period of time.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0504                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER told  the members  that  HB 213  creates a  three-                                                               
tiered  system that  all young  drivers  will be  required to  go                                                               
through.   When a youth  who is 14  years old, which  is youngest                                                               
age an  individual can seek  to get a driver's  license [permit],                                                               
he/she  takes a  knowledge  test,  and [if  passed]  a permit  is                                                               
issued.   Ms. Sylvester said there  is no change in  that part of                                                               
the process.   However, when  an individual  is 16 years  old and                                                               
has  had a  permit for  six  months and  has taken  a road  test,                                                               
his/her parent  will have to  certify that  the youth has  had at                                                               
least  50  hours  of  driving  experience, 10  of  which  are  at                                                               
nighttime.  This  would be a simple certification on  a form that                                                               
his/her  parent, employer,  or legal  guardian must  sign.   From                                                               
that point on, he/she would get  a driver's license, but would be                                                               
in  another tier  which  allows for  a  provisional license  that                                                               
would have restrictions on the individual's ability to drive.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. SYLVESTER said that the  most important restriction, while it                                                               
sounds severe,  it is  a life-saving  step, which  would prohibit                                                               
these youth  from driving  with other  teenagers in  the vehicle.                                                               
Statistics  show that  this is  a critical  problem.   When other                                                               
kids are  in the car,  the driver can  be distracted and  that is                                                               
when accidents happen.   This period of  time [restriction] would                                                               
last for  one year.   So he/she  would be prohibited  from having                                                               
anyone in the vehicle except  his/her parent or an individual who                                                               
is over 25 years old.   The other restriction is a prohibition on                                                               
nighttime driving, from midnight to  5 a.m.; however, there is an                                                               
allowance  for a  work permit.   The  person will  have to  state                                                               
his/her case to the DMV, similar  to the process now in place for                                                               
an allowance when  a person has a DWI  [driving while intoxicated                                                               
conviction].                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0633                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SYLVESTER went on to say  that there is one other requirement                                                               
in obtaining a  provisional license and that is  that he/she must                                                               
be citation-free for six months prior to application.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER  explained  that  when an  individual  has  had  a                                                               
provisional  license for  one year,  he/she goes  back to  DMV to                                                               
apply for  an unrestricted license.   Division of  Motor Vehicles                                                               
(DMV)  would do  a  check to  confirm the  individual  has had  a                                                               
provisional license for  one year, and to see if  there have been                                                               
citations of any  kind.  In order to get  an unrestricted license                                                               
the  individual would  have to  have a  clean record.   She  said                                                               
there is a point system  whereby every infraction would result in                                                               
points taken  away until  an individual  reaches 12  points [when                                                               
the  license would  be  revoked].   She  reiterated that  because                                                               
teenage drivers  are novices, they  must remain  citation-free to                                                               
get an unrestricted  license.  Ms. Sylvester  clarified that this                                                               
portion of  the bill addresses youths  who are between 16  and 18                                                               
years old.  She explained that  an adult who had never learned to                                                               
drive is  not required  to go  through this  process.   This bill                                                               
would only apply to young drivers.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0748                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER  told the  committee  that  she  knows this  is  a                                                               
startling piece  of legislation, but [the  merits of implementing                                                               
this bill] can be substantiated with research.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0808                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GREGORY  BROWNING,  Assistant  Chief  of  Police,  Juneau  Police                                                               
Department, City and  Borough of Juneau, testified  in support of                                                               
HB  213 and  answer questions  from  the members.   Mr.  Browning                                                               
explained that he  received short notice of the  hearing and does                                                               
not have a  lot of statistics with him, but  wanted to testify in                                                               
support  of  this bill.    He  said he  believes  it  is a  good,                                                               
commonsense approach  to saving  lives in  Alaska.   Mr. Browning                                                               
told the members he has 24  years' experience as a police officer                                                               
and  has seen  his share  of  midnight shifts  and bad  accidents                                                               
involving youths.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0848                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWNING said  that there  are two  parts of  the bill  that                                                               
strike a chord with him in making  a lot of sense.  Teenagers are                                                               
very  susceptible   to  peer  pressure  and   distractions  while                                                               
driving,  and the  section that  prohibits teenagers  from having                                                               
other youths in  their vehicles [is an important  provision].  He                                                               
told the committee that even if a  good kid is a good driver, [if                                                               
that kid is  put in a position  with] a bunch of kids  in the car                                                               
late at night,  things can happen.  He told  the committee he has                                                               
seen  tragedy result  from those  kinds of  circumstances several                                                               
times.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0877                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWNING  told  the  committee that  he  believes  the  time                                                               
element in  the bill, basically  prohibiting youths  from driving                                                               
between midnight and 5 a.m., will  be very effective as well.  He                                                               
said there is  very little legitimate reason for  youths that age                                                               
to be out on the streets that  time of night.  Driving then tends                                                               
to  be   more  for   a  recreational   purpose,  rather   than  a                                                               
transportation purpose.   He said  his opinion  is that it  is an                                                               
invitation for  kids to get into  trouble and that they  are very                                                               
much at  risk.   Mr. Browning summarized  his comments  by saying                                                               
that the Juneau  Police Department is supportive of  the bill and                                                               
believes  it  is  an  effective way  of  reducing  fatalities  in                                                               
Alaska.    He  said  he  is fairly  confident  that  most  police                                                               
departments in the state would agree with him.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0930                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG commented  that many  teens go  to proms  and                                                               
dances and asked what time those functions usually get out.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWNING responded that most are  out at midnight, but 1 a.m.                                                               
would be the latest.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG asked if it would  make sense to give youths a                                                               
little bit of time to get home from a prom or dance.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWNING replied  that  a field  officer  would have  enough                                                               
discretion  that  he/she  would  not  enforce  the  law  in  that                                                               
particular case  if it were  clear the  youths were on  their way                                                               
home from  a prom.  They  might verify that the  prom is actually                                                               
taking  place.   He questioned  that  the law  could be  designed                                                               
around every conceivable  event.  There may be a  way to describe                                                               
an exemption  beyond work,  since there  are probably  some other                                                               
legitimate reasons for  youths to be out past  midnight, but most                                                               
of the  time, there  is not.   They  are just  out having  a good                                                               
time, and that is the time they get in trouble.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1012                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG commented that he  believes the prom is a good                                                               
social function  for the  youths.   If the time  were moved  to 1                                                               
a.m., that would cover it.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWNING explained that the  time period between midnight and                                                               
1  a.m. is  a  dangerous time.    He told  the  committee he  has                                                               
observed that  time and time again.   However, he said  he agrees                                                               
that he would not want to  restrict kids from going to a function                                                               
like a  prom.   He said  he believes  with laws  such as  this, a                                                               
police officer's discretion comes into effect to some degree.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HOLM asked about the  term "infraction" which is on page                                                               
2, line 27,  of the bill.   He asked Mr. Browning  to clarify the                                                               
meaning of this term.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWNING responded  that means  it  is the  lowest level  of                                                               
violation of Alaska law.  It is not even a misdemeanor.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1100                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  asked, if it  is only an infraction  to have                                                               
other  teenagers in  the  car,  would not  a  16-year-old with  a                                                               
provisional  license just  go  ahead and  fill  his/her car  with                                                               
teenagers and  be in the same  danger that is purported  to be in                                                               
the first place?  What is to prevent that?                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1120                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWNING asked  if Representative  Fate  was proposing  that                                                               
this be a more serious offense than an infraction.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE responded that he  is not proposing that, but                                                               
asked what is  to prevent youths from [breaking the  law] even if                                                               
there is a more serious penalty.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWNING responded  that  that  could be  said  of any  law.                                                               
There will  be a  penalty in  the cost of  insurance if  they are                                                               
caught.  He said he believes this is better than nothing.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE commented  that he  is not  so sure  this is                                                               
better  than nothing.   Parents  may  have something  to do  with                                                               
this.   He  said he  does not  believe draconian  regulations can                                                               
ever take the place of good parental training.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWNING responded that he agrees with Representative Fate.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1174                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KERRY  HENNINGS,  Driver  Licensing Manager,  Division  of  Motor                                                               
Vehicles, Department  of Administration, testified in  support of                                                               
HB 213  and answered questions  from the  members.  She  said DMV                                                               
supports  the  enhancements  of provisional  licensing  that  are                                                               
introduced in this  bill.  Driving is a skill  that improves with                                                               
experience, and  in the  case of  teenage drivers,  improves with                                                               
maturity.  Ms.  Hennings said this bill  addresses several issues                                                               
and all the steps proposed  are steps recommended by the National                                                               
Highway  Traffic Safety  Administration.   She said  she believes                                                               
they have proven  to be effective in many cases.   This bill sets                                                               
up  a reward  for teenagers  with a  good driving  record because                                                               
they do get  to move on to  the next step and  proceed with their                                                               
driving career.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. HENNINGS  commented on  earlier testimony  about consequences                                                               
of infractions.   She explained  that an infraction  for breaking                                                               
the rules would stop a teenager  from moving on to the next step,                                                               
where  the  driver  could  have passengers  and  could  get  some                                                               
benefits by driving safely.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  said his  question is  really a  follow-up to                                                               
Representative Fate's  question.   If an  individual does  get an                                                               
infraction, what happens to his/her license?                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HENNING said  the  infraction would  go  on his/her  driving                                                               
record as  a violation.   It may or may  not have a  point value.                                                               
That has  not been determined.   What it  would mean is  that the                                                               
individual  would  have to  remain  under  a provisional  license                                                               
until the individual could go six months without being cited.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG asked  at what point an  individual would lose                                                               
his/her  provisional license  so  that if  he/she continued  this                                                               
activity, the individual  would come under the other  laws of the                                                               
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. HENNINGS responded  that if there were no points  tied to the                                                               
citations,  he/she would  not reach  a  suspension status  unless                                                               
there was other driving behavior [which warranted suspension].                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1323                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTINE ROWINSKI testified in support of  HB 213.  She told the                                                               
committee she  is working with a  group who hopes to  open a MADD                                                               
chapter  in Fairbanks,  but it  is not  official yet,  so she  is                                                               
speaking today representing only herself.   She said she believes                                                               
that  HB  213  will  help  to protect  teenagers  and  asked  the                                                               
committee to support graduated driver's licenses (GDLs).                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1422                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
AL  NEAR testified  in support  of  HB 213.   Mr.  Near told  the                                                               
committee that  while he is a  member of MADD, he  is speaking on                                                               
his own behalf.  He said  he did some research on the statistics,                                                               
which he  shared with the committee.   He pointed out  that there                                                               
is  a  document that  was  recently  published by  the  Insurance                                                               
Information  Institute that  provides  some interesting  national                                                               
statistics that come  from reliable sources such  as the National                                                               
Highway  Traffic  Safety  Administration.     Mr.  Near  said  he                                                               
believes HB  213 will really  impact some of these  statistics in                                                               
Alaska.  Motor  vehicle accidents are the leading  cause of death                                                               
of 15-to 20-year-olds.   The crash rate for teens  ages 16 and 17                                                               
is triple  the rate of 18-  or-19-year-olds.  In 2000,  more than                                                               
40 percent  of motor  vehicle teenage  deaths occurred  between 9                                                               
p.m. and  6 a.m.   Also in 2000,  63 percent of  passenger deaths                                                               
occurred in crashes when other teen drivers were at the wheel.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1486                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEAR said he believes if  HB 213 passes the legislature, each                                                               
of  these factors  will  be addressed.    The graduated  driver's                                                               
license concept  is new, but  has been adopted  by three-quarters                                                               
of the  United States.  Florida  was the first state  to adopt it                                                               
in 1996.   Since the law was  passed there has been  a 21 percent                                                               
decrease in teenage  driver deaths.  Mr. Near  told the committee                                                               
that there  has been less time  to evaluate the effects  in other                                                               
states, but similar results are being seen.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEAR explained that in  other countries where the GDL concept                                                               
has  been in  place  longer, more  comprehensive studies  support                                                               
these early  numbers.  In  Nova Scotia, where it  was implemented                                                               
in  1994,  there  has  seen  a  51  percent  decline  in  crashes                                                               
involving beginner  drivers between the  ages of 16 to  17 years.                                                               
He  said 12  new studies  released in  February by  the nonprofit                                                               
National Safety  Council showed that a  tiered licensing approach                                                               
reduced  teen crashes  by 58  percent.   Mr. Near  summarized his                                                               
comments  by saying  that the  GDL  concept works  and urged  the                                                               
committee to support HB 213.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1556                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CINDY  CASHEN, Director,  Mothers Against  Drunk Driving,  Juneau                                                               
Chapter, testified in support of HB  213.  She told the committee                                                               
that MADD advocates  all states to adopt laws  that would provide                                                               
that persons  under 21 receive  driver's licenses which  are more                                                               
restrictive  than  full licenses.    MADD  urges that  violations                                                               
would result  in driver improvement actions,  license revocation,                                                               
civil  sanctions, criminal  sanctions, and  penalties.   She said                                                               
MADD also  supports the  adoption of  GDL privileges  for persons                                                               
under  21.   Ms.  Cashen  shared her  belief  that early  driving                                                               
experiences  must  be acquired  in  a  low-risk environment  with                                                               
extended  restriction,  no  alcohol  use,  seatbelt  enforcement,                                                               
limitations on  nighttime driving,  and teenage passengers.   She                                                               
said she believes that driving is a privilege and not a right.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1615                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CASHEN told  the  members  that in  the  year 2000,  Alaskan                                                               
drivers between  the ages  of 16  and 20  were in  3,889 crashes.                                                               
The next closest age group  was the 20- to-25-year-olds, but that                                                               
number  dropped to  2,700, a  significant difference  which means                                                               
that 15.9  percent of  all traffic crashes  occurred with  16- to                                                               
20-year-old Alaskans.  That is  the highest percentage of all age                                                               
groups.  Ms. Cashen said  that the national percentage rates that                                                               
Mr.  Near shared  with the  committee match  Alaska's rate.   She                                                               
noted the rates are not going  down; they are staying the same or                                                               
slightly going up.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1654                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CASHEN told  the  committee as  responsible  adults, "it  is                                                               
important  to protect  our young."    The current  system is  not                                                               
working, but  with the support  of all  the agencies there  is an                                                               
answer to this, which is  the graduated driver's license program.                                                               
Last  year  the  National  Safety Council  published  a  115-page                                                               
summary  of   an  international  symposium  where   directors  of                                                               
insurance  companies,  hospitals, legislators,  law  enforcement,                                                               
federal, state, and nonprofit agencies,  all of those affected by                                                               
young people  dying on the roads,  met to share and  discuss data                                                               
on  our GDL  programs  in  Canada, New  Zealand,  and the  United                                                               
States.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN  shared that  there is broad  support by  both parents                                                               
and  teenagers who  are in  GDL  programs.   In a  survey of  520                                                               
Ontario parents  whose teenagers  were involved in  GDL programs,                                                               
83 percent approved  of the program.  Eighty-nine  percent of the                                                               
parents with teens in the  learner stage agreed with the program.                                                               
In Nova Scotia, a survey of  450 teenagers between the ages of 16                                                               
and  18 and  500  parents of  teenagers that  age  found that  87                                                               
percent of  the parents and  61 percent  of the teenagers  in the                                                               
learner stage  voiced approval of the  GDL program.  She  said in                                                               
Michigan, teenagers  were accumulating more than  the required 50                                                               
hours of supervised driving practice.   In a survey of parents it                                                               
was reported that  an average 75 hours of  practice [took place];                                                               
thus parents were  taking more time to  supervise their student's                                                               
driving than required.  A  California survey showed 81 percent of                                                               
parents had  driven at  least the 50  hours required,  79 percent                                                               
said they  had met  the requirement  of 10  hours of  practice at                                                               
night,  and   most  American  parents  favor   nighttime  driving                                                               
restrictions.  She  said she believes these numbers  say that the                                                               
graduated driver's  license is  supported by  a vast  majority of                                                               
parents and those teens who are in the program.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1746                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN told  the committee that in a recent  Juneau "Youth in                                                               
Action" survey at the high school,  nine out of ten students were                                                               
in favor  of Representative  Weyhrauch's bill.   The  one student                                                               
[who voted against it] was her son,  who was mad at her that day,                                                               
she said.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CASHEN   explained  that  the   infraction  portion   is  an                                                               
incentive.   She said  kids will avoid  getting an  infraction so                                                               
they have  a clean record  and can move  on to the  next license.                                                               
She said studies show this [incentive] works.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN commented on an earlier  question on the midnight to 1                                                               
a.m.  crashes by  saying  that according  to  the Highway  Safety                                                               
Division   [Alaska   Highway   Safety   Office,   Department   of                                                               
Transportation & Public Facilities], in 2000 Alaskan alcohol-                                                                   
related highway  crashes between midnight  and 2 a.m.,  were 168,                                                               
and between  2 a.m.  and 4  a.m. were  177.   Those two  were the                                                               
highest numbers.   She said that means that  between midnight and                                                               
2 a.m.,  15 percent of  crashes occurred.   Ms. Cashen  said that                                                               
schools in  other states have  set the hours back  to accommodate                                                               
the time  it takes the students  to get home from  proms, dances,                                                               
or other  healthy events.   She said it  has not been  a problem,                                                               
and  the parents  and  teenagers  approve of  this  change.   Ms.                                                               
Cashen   thanked  the   committee  for   hearing  the   bill  and                                                               
Representative Weyhrauch for introducing it.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1842                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
WESTON EILER,  Senior, Juneau-Douglas  High School,  testified in                                                               
support of  HB 213.  He  said that he supports  this bill because                                                               
it creates  a way  for young drivers  to gain  driving experience                                                               
while minimizing  risks to  themselves and others.   He  told the                                                               
committee he  believes this  bill will  address the  risks facing                                                               
young teenage  drivers.   For instance, he  said, teens  are more                                                               
likely  to  die  from  a  car  crash  than  from  anything  else.                                                               
Teenagers  represent 7  percent  of the  driving population,  yet                                                               
constitute 14 percent of all driving  fatalities.  He said he has                                                               
personally  observed his  peers  in Juneau  involved in  reckless                                                               
driving, driving accidents, driving  under the influence, and one                                                               
incident that resulted  in death.  This has  a substantial impact                                                               
on the  school and community.   Mr.  Eiler said that  he believes                                                               
the graduated  driver's license program could  make a difference.                                                               
It has  been adopted by 36  states, Canada, and New  Zealand, and                                                               
it has been shown  to have an impact.  For  instance, when it was                                                               
introduced  in North  Carolina, the  number of  16-year-olds that                                                               
were involved in  fatal crashes went down by over  57 percent, he                                                               
told the  committee.  This  system could  be the key  to counter-                                                               
acting  the  problems of  peer  pressure,  substance abuse  while                                                               
driving, and serious  accidents and/or death.   Mr. Eiler thanked                                                               
the  committee  for the  opportunity  to  testify and  urged  the                                                               
committee to support HB 213.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1982                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HOLM thank Mr. Eiler for  testifying and told him he was                                                               
very impressed with his testimony.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  asked Mr.  Eiler if  there are  still driver                                                               
education courses in high school.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. EILER responded  that Juneau-Douglas High School  did start a                                                               
responsible-driving course  this year.   He commented that  it is                                                               
the  first driver's  education course  that  he has  seen in  the                                                               
community  for  years.   He  explained  that  he went  through  a                                                               
private school  of driving  that then helps  with a  reduction in                                                               
insurance  premiums;   however,  that   program  is  in   no  way                                                               
comparable to a school curriculum.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE noted that the  sponsor statement says that a                                                               
youth may be eligible for a  provisional license if the youth has                                                               
held a  learner's permit  for six months  and a  parent certifies                                                               
that the  youth has at least  50 hours of driving  experience, 10                                                               
of which must be  at nighttime.  He pointed out  that there is no                                                               
[reference to  a] formal driver's  education course, such  as the                                                               
one  Mr. Eiler  had  in  the private  school,  or an  educational                                                               
program  where there  is hands-on  driving in  a high  school, or                                                               
other public school  setting.  He asked Ms. Sylvester  if that is                                                               
an oversight in the bill or is it an intentional [omission].                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SYLVESTER  responded that  it was not  an oversight  to leave                                                               
out driver's education  because the research shows that  it has a                                                               
very negligible  effect on  accident rates.   The  research shows                                                               
that the most important element for  youths to learn how to drive                                                               
is to  have that steady, wise  parent sitting next to  them for a                                                               
period of  time.  The  effect of a professional  driver education                                                               
company  holding  the  youth's   permit  or  providing  a  longer                                                               
instructional period can be valuable, she commented.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2050                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   FATE  asked   what   the   requirement  is   for                                                               
eligibility for  a provisional license.   It is not  the standard                                                               
by which a youth must drive, which is something else.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SYLVESTER responded  that once the youth  has his/her permit,                                                               
and has passed  the road test, the youth is  free to drive alone,                                                               
but  the only  passenger allowed  in the  vehicle is  a passenger                                                               
over the age of 25 or a parent.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE replied that he  hoped that a formal driver's                                                               
education, either  private or public,  would not be  thrust aside                                                               
only because it  is not embodied clearly in the  language of this                                                               
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HOLM  said that as  a former  truck driver, he  found it                                                               
odd that individuals  can get driver's licenses, but  there is no                                                               
requirement that they have to learn  how to drive well.  He asked                                                               
if there is a log mechanism that the parents complete.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. SYLVESTER responded that there is  no way to verify a log, so                                                               
the parent could be completely  misrepresenting what has actually                                                               
happened.   There is no  way to enforce  or monitor this,  but it                                                               
gives  a  guideline  of  what  parents  should  be  doing.    She                                                               
clarified  that nowhere  in  the discussion  was  a logbook  ever                                                               
mentioned.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2132                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HOLM asked  Ms. Sylvester  if a  representation by  the                                                               
parent or by the provisional licensee is sufficient.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER said  that is  correct.   When a  parent certifies                                                               
this  statement, there  is some  liability  for perjury  involved                                                               
because the  parents are  making a statement  to the  Division of                                                               
Motor  Vehicles   that  the  youth   has  50  hours   of  driving                                                               
experience, 10 of  which were at night.  Ms.  Sylvester said that                                                               
the  sponsor would  entertain strengthening  the language  in the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG  inquired  about a  couple  of  discrepancies                                                               
between the sponsor's  statement and the legislation  itself.  He                                                               
noted that the  sponsor statement refers to 1 a.m.,  but the bill                                                               
says midnight,  and asked if  there is  some reason why  the time                                                               
was  moved  back  to  midnight.   Representative  Ogg  asked  Ms.                                                               
Sylvester to clarify this.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. SYLVESTER said that midnight  was the sponsor's highest hope,                                                               
but  she said  she also  has another  sponsor statement  prepared                                                               
with the 1  a.m. deadline.  She said she  fully imagines that the                                                               
1 a.m. time will prevail.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGG commented that  the sponsor statement does not                                                               
refer to the language on page  2, lines 25-26, where it refers to                                                               
youths driving to and from their  place of employment on the most                                                               
direct  route  available.    He  pointed  out  that  this  is  an                                                               
exception that allows  the youth to drive between  midnight and 5                                                               
a.m.  without the  accompaniment of  his/her parent.   The  youth                                                               
would have  to prove that  he/she was going  to or from  work and                                                               
then there  would also have to  be some discussion as  to whether                                                               
this is the most direct route.   Representative Ogg asked if this                                                               
would present a problem for enforcement officers.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. SYLVESTER responded that she  does not think it would because                                                               
it follows the same procedure of  a limited license.  If there is                                                               
a  reason for  an exemption,  the individual  would make  his/her                                                               
case  to  DMV  and  DMV  would issue  a  limited  license.    She                                                               
explained that  it is a piece  of paper that is  carried with the                                                               
driver.   If pulled over,  the youth  would have to  make his/her                                                               
case to the police officer.  She  said the intent is to make this                                                               
flexible and  work in the real  world, and the system  is already                                                               
in place to issue a restricted license for driving to work.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE said that in  the attached appendix there are                                                               
several pages  of statistics and  as he understands it,  they are                                                               
national statistics.   He asked  if these [statistics]  have been                                                               
compared with Alaska's statistics.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER  replied  that  in  the back  of  the  packet  are                                                               
statistics from  Alaska that  show accidents  and injuries.   She                                                               
asked  the   members  to   look  at   the  index   of  supporting                                                               
documentation,  which   follows  the  sponsor  statement.     Ms.                                                               
Sylvester told  the committee  that there is  some rough  data on                                                               
traffic accidents and there are national statistics as well.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER referred  to Table  A.7[1],  "Persons Involved  in                                                               
2000  Traffic Accidents  by Age  and Injury  Severity," where  it                                                               
shows that  there is  a huge spike  in traffic  accidents between                                                               
the ages of 16 and 20.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-14, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2355                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SYLVESTER shared  that her  interest in  this issue  started                                                               
many years  ago when she  was a  paralegal for a  personal injury                                                               
attorney.   She said the  area of  the practice that  she managed                                                               
was  the soft-tissue  injuries, which  resulted from  rear-ending                                                               
accidents.   She  said that  she became  angry because  she would                                                               
work with people  who would get into  "fender-benders" with young                                                               
kids.  [It was difficult because  when] an older person gets into                                                               
this kind of  an accident and has experienced  a whiplash injury,                                                               
those  people do  not recover.   She  said that  for the  rest of                                                               
their lives they  live with the repercussions  of these injuries;                                                               
however, the  young people move  on, get a  new car from  mom and                                                               
dad,  and  do not  suffer  from  the  result of  these  accidents                                                               
because their bodies are flexible  and not fragile like the older                                                               
people.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. SYLVESTER  shared a terrifying  experience she had  one night                                                               
when coming home from a high  school musical with her kids in the                                                               
car, and the  roads were icy.   She said a car  full of teenagers                                                               
screamed right  by her  going down Egan  Drive, and  sure enough,                                                               
they were in an accident.  The  next week the victim in the other                                                               
car  came [into  her office].    She had  lost all  of her  front                                                               
teeth, had back  pain, and had a broken arm.   Ms. Sylvester said                                                               
that  while this  bill will  save  kids' lives,  there are  5,000                                                               
accidents [in which there are  no fatalities].  She summarized by                                                               
saying she believes this bill is the solution to this problem.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2258                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  GEORGE, Lobbyist  for National  Association of  Independent                                                               
Insurers,  testified in  support of  HB 213  because [provisional                                                               
driver's licenses]  do work in  other states.   He said  he knows                                                               
that most of  the members know him as an  insurance lobbyist, but                                                               
he  said he  has  served 21  years  as a  volunteer  in the  fire                                                               
department and  just retired last year  as the fire chief  of the                                                               
Auke Bay [fire department].  In those  years, he went to a lot of                                                               
car wrecks between midnight and  5 a.m. and pulled teenagers out,                                                               
held their hands,  and put them in ambulances, and  he said there                                                               
is  nothing worse.    Mr.  George said  he  believes  this is  an                                                               
important step  in preventing some  of those accidents.   He told                                                               
the  members that  one benefit  is getting  the parents  involved                                                               
with their  teenagers.  That involvement  is lacking in a  lot of                                                               
areas.  It is  beneficial to have the teenager say  to his or her                                                               
parent, "Let's  go driving; I  need the experience."   The parent                                                               
is  then   there  and  helping  the   child  develop  responsible                                                               
attitudes.   That is an  incredible thing  and may carry  over to                                                               
other areas of their lives.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GEORGE told  the members  that he  is a  driver trainer  for                                                               
Princess Tours, training adults to drive  tour buses.  He said he                                                               
found that adults who drove on the  family farm at 12, 13, and 14                                                               
years  old, and  were trained  by their  parents, are  incredibly                                                               
good drivers.   He went on to say that  his experience with those                                                               
who did not learn to drive that  way often is not that good.  For                                                               
example,  stop signs  mean  really  slow down  a  lot, and  speed                                                               
limits are only for guidance.   He summarized his comments to say                                                               
it really does  make a difference in who teaches  youths to drive                                                               
and parental supervision is really important.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HOLM  agreed with  Mr.  George  that parental  guidance                                                               
cannot be discounted.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE said that in  some of the statistics it shows                                                               
25 percent of fatally injured drivers  from ages 16 to 20 in 1995                                                               
had a  blood alcohol  concentration at or  above the  .10 percent                                                               
[limit], even though they were  all under the legal drinking age.                                                               
He asked  Mr. George  if there  has been  any effort  to mitigate                                                               
that  problem, since  that problem  certainly has  compounded the                                                               
number of accidents.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GEORGE responded  that there  are a  number of  things being                                                               
done,  but this  bill says  that if  a youth  is cited  for drunk                                                               
driving or receives  a ticket, it impairs the  youth's ability to                                                               
get the  unrestricted license, so  there is an incentive.   There                                                               
are a  number of bills  that have passed  and a number  that have                                                               
been considered.   One he recalled  was the "use it  and lose it"                                                               
bill:   if  an individual  were caught  drinking, then  the youth                                                               
could not get a license until  he/she turned 18 years old instead                                                               
of 16.   Mr. George said there needs to  be parental control, and                                                               
pointed out  that kids  drink when they  are out  after midnight.                                                               
In Juneau,  kids drive out to  Eagle Beach and drink  a six-pack.                                                               
Whenever there  is an accident, it  is never just one  kid in the                                                               
car; it is usually three or  four [youths] coming back from Eagle                                                               
Beach.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2097                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE asked  if there  are formal  classes showing                                                               
the effects of  alcohol on driving, particularly  with respect to                                                               
high   school  driver-education   courses  and   private  driving                                                               
schools.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. GEORGE replied that he does  not believe there is a mandatory                                                               
prescribed outline for driver training.   He said he believes any                                                               
good program would  include it, but is pretty sure  there are not                                                               
driver  training programs  in  all schools  or  available in  all                                                               
areas [of  the state].   While  Juneau, Anchorage,  and Fairbanks                                                               
probably have them,  he said he believes many of  the rural areas                                                               
do not.   Mr.  George summarized  by saying  he does  not believe                                                               
there is  any mandatory course  material, but believes  it should                                                               
be [included when or if there is].                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 2049                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CASHEN  told  the  committee that  there  are  no  mandatory                                                               
driver's  education classes  in  the schools.    The program  was                                                               
dropped in the 1980s.  Ms.  Cashen said that when MADD approached                                                               
the  Juneau  School  District about  reinstituting  the  driver's                                                               
education program, it  was through a nonprofit with  a grant, and                                                               
is a  one-semester class  that is  not mandatory.   She  said the                                                               
class is  very popular  with the students  and many  students are                                                               
turned  away.   The same  program is  available in  the Anchorage                                                               
School District, but most schools  do not have driver's education                                                               
courses  because of  budget  cuts.   Ms.  Cashen  said that  most                                                               
courses that are  available are so expensive that  only the upper                                                               
class  or middle  to upper  class can  afford them.   The  lower-                                                               
income teenagers  lose out  on that opportunity.   She  also said                                                               
that this  is a  new job  sector that is  necessary and  could be                                                               
met.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HOLM announced that that was  the end of testimony on HB
213.  [HB 213 was held over.]                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects