Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/27/1995 01:30 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL 57 "An Act relating to driver's licensing; and providing for an effective date." JEFF LOGAN, STAFF TO REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN, testified in support of HB 57 which would establish new rules for young drivers. He stated that due to the high incidence of accidents, injury and death among teenage drivers, many states and other political jurisdictions are changing the rules which grant teenagers the "license" to drive. He added that language in HB 57 establishes certain conditions during the provisional stage which include restrictions on nighttime driving so that driving takes place in less dangerous circumstances. Mr. Logan added that HB 57 was designed to allow the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to take advantage of new federal legislation. He stated that passage of the legislation would help to stop the teenage carnage on highways. (Tape Change HFC 95-104, Side 1). Mr. Logan provided a sectional analysis of the proposed legislation. Co-Chair Foster voiced concern on how well the legislation would work in the village areas. JUANITA HENSLEY, CHIEF, DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, stated that the Department issues statewide a restricted license (off-systems license). Currently, if an individual fifteen (15) years old was driving, they would be required to have a driving permit and to be driving with someone over nineteen (19) years of age and who had been licensed at least one year. The bill would not change that language. She continued that licenses are issued in village offices, and are restricted in order that those people can drive specifically in those village areas. Co-Chair Foster reiterated that it was difficult to get licenses in the village areas, indicating that the legislation would make that process more difficult. Ms. Hensley emphasized that the legislation was proposed to save young adult lives. The graduated license system does not require an individual to have any type of learning driving experience. Young adults in Alaska learn driving by 9 "trial and error". She pointed out that there is no driver's education available in the school system and that 28% of youth are involved in crashes. Ms. Hensley advised that Alaska applied through the National Highway Safety administration for a grant to help offset any costs for implementation of the program. She added that if the legislation was passed, the Department will show how well the program works. Representative Brown questioned the restrictions on young adult drivers between the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Representative Parnell thought the primary factor of concern was safety and noted that time of night was a dangerous time to be driving noting that most crashes occur in the late hours of the night. Representative Navarre thought the legislation would create a financial burden on young adults in requiring them to pay an additional $10 dollars. He recommended adding Driver's Education classes to the high school students curriculum. Representative Therriault asked if other states had incorporated this restriction. Ms. Hensley noted that the National Highway Safety Administration has made grants available to two states, California and Maryland. Both of those states have reported a 5% reduction in crashes for drivers between the ages of 15 - 17 years old. Representative Parnell inquired about the $10 thousand dollar fiscal request for the computer work station. Ms. Hensley stated that the cost would include an entire station with desk, work and computer table, chair, and everything else needed to set-up a work space for one individual. Representative Brown asked if the provisions in the bill were tied to the federal requirements. Ms. Hensley stated that the only provisions required would be the hours of curfew and the age of the licensed driver who must accompany the instructed young adult. She emphasized that this was not a federal law, it was a grant. Representative Parnell MOVED to report HB 57 out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. HB 57 was reported out of Committee with a "no recommendation" and with a fiscal note by the Department of Public Safety dated 3/10/95.