Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/08/1995 01:35 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HTRA - 03/08/95                                                               
 HB 57 - LICENSING REQUIREMENTS FOR DRIVERS                                  
 Number 124                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS introduced Representative Joe Green, sponsor of HB             
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN indicated HB 57 was introduced last                  
 session and got as far as the House Rules Committee when we ran out           
 of time.  He explained the bill was reintroduced due to concerns on           
 the abundance of accidents and deaths caused by teen-age drivers.             
 He indicated these deaths were not necessarily caused because of              
 unqualified drivers so much as "their mental attitude was lacking."           
 He stated a teen-ager can physically operate a vehicle but                    
 Representative Green questioned the teen-ager's maturity and                  
 judgment level.  He explained HB 57 was necessary in order to help            
 teen-agers realize the seriousness of operating an automobile and             
 to establish a graduated system in acquiring a driver's license.              
 He stated driving was a privilege, not a right.  He pointed out               
 that statistically, the majority of the accidents happen in the               
 early hours of the morning.  He explained HB 57 implements a                  
 restriction during phase two of the graduation system imposed in HB           
 57 stating that teen-agers would be restricted from the hours of 1            
 a.m. to 5 a.m. when most accidents happen, unless they are taking             
 a direct route from employment to home.  He stated the intent is to           
 keep teen-agers off the streets at those specific times.                      
 Representative Green asked for questions.                                     
 Number 175                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN commented on other states implementing                 
 monetary incentive programs for young drivers.  She inquired as to            
 the type of monetary incentives available in Alaska when there is             
 a fiscal note that will increase the budget within the Department             
 of Public Safety.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN indicated Ms. Hensley would be able to address           
 Representative MacLean's concerns.                                            
 JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Green,                
 presented HB 57 in sections.  He indicated the intent of HB 57 was            
 to establish a provisional driver's licensing system.  He asked the           
 committee to analogize learning to ride a bicycle.  He stated the             
 progression of starting with a tricycle, and on to a bicycle with             
 training wheels, then to a full size bicycle.  He stated the intent           
 of HB 57 is to do the same in regards to creating a three-stage               
 system for people who operate an automobile.  He indicated Section            
 1 of HB 57 establishes that a driver's license cannot be issued to            
 a person between the ages of 16 and 21.  He mentioned the bill                
 targets people between the ages of 16 and 20, unless they have met            
 the provisions of 057, which is a new provision licensing section             
 in Section 3 of HB 57.  He summarized Section 1 states a person may           
 not obtain a license if you are a young driver, unless you have had           
 a provisional driver's license; Section 2 increases the age of the            
 person one can drive with when they have a learner's permit. He               
 explained that nationally as well as within Alaska, statistics                
 indicate if a person is taught to drive by a person with good                 
 driving habits, that person will more than likely acquire the same            
 skills.  He added statistically, persons 25 years and older are               
 more capable of teaching others to drive.  He indicated this was              
 the reason for the increase in age in order to obtain a learner's             
 permit.  He explained Section 3 of the bill adds two new sections:            
 055 which states that the Department of Public Safety may issue a             
 provisional driver's license to a person who is at least 16, but              
 not yet 18, if that person possesses an instructional permit.  He             
 summarized the three-stage provisional licensing system.  He said             
 first, the learner's permit, then the provisional license, and                
 finally the full driver's license.  He stated a person must have a            
 learner's permit for at least six months.  The second subsection of           
 055 states if a person is between 18 and 21, a permit is not                  
 required, however they do have to have the provisional driver's               
 license.  So, in Section 3 under 055, it states that before a                 
 person may obtain a license, that person must have had the                    
 provisional driver's license.                                                 
 MR. LOGAN then explained provision 057 which establishes the                  
 provisional driver's license.  He stated there are three                      
 subsections to 057--A, B,and C.  Subsection A provides the                    
 provisions for the 16 and 17 year olds.  Subsection B covers                  
 persons at least 18, but not yet 21.  Subsection C establishes the            
 night time driving restrictions.  He directed attention to the                
 charts in the bill packet presented to committee members.  He made            
 reference to a pie chart which offered statistics from 1993, that             
 while young drivers 16 to 23 represented 6 percent of the licensed            
 drivers, they had almost 13 percent of the accidents.  He                     
 referenced the same pie chart which showed the time of day these              
 accidents occurred.  He stated about 32 percent of the accidents              
 for that particular age group occurred between the hours of 8 p.m.            
 and 6 a.m.  He indicated what HB 57 establishes is essentially a              
 curfew for young drivers between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.               
 MR. LOGAN made reference to a House State Affairs Committee meeting           
 last year where there was concern in Representative Davis's                   
 district regarding young workers in the fish processors.  Mr. Logan           
 explained that we have worked around that, and it would be                    
 permissible for a person traveling directly from work to home.                
 MR. LOGAN explained Section 4 of HB 57 tightens up the section of             
 law pertaining to the state of Alaska having the right to suspend             
 a person's license if that person demonstrated irresponsible                  
 behavior operating a vehicle.  He indicated that currently, if a              
 person acquires 12 or more points within a 12-month period, or 18             
 or more points within a 24-month period, the person's license will            
 be suspended.  However, if a person has a provisional license, they           
 are only allowed a total of six points before their license is                
 suspended.  Mr. Logan explained once a person loses their                     
 provisional license they have to start the entire process over.  He           
 stated Section 5 is a definition section and Section 6 establishes            
 an effective date.                                                            
 MR. LOGAN indicated that Ms. Hensley could further testify to the             
 nationally, as well as international popularity of the driver                 
 licensing provisional system.  He stated currently there are 16               
 states that have successfully implemented some component of a                 
 provisional licensing system.  He named some of the organizations             
 that are supporting a type of provisional licensing system such as            
 Associations of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Insurance                       
 Associations, Mothers against Drunk Driving, Governors' Highway               
 Safety Representatives, and National Safety Councils.  He called              
 committee members' attention to a brochure which listed                       
 organizations and insurance companies primarily supporting this               
 legislation.  He stated these organizations profit from young                 
 drivers and noted that one would suspect they would welcome young             
 drivers of this higher statistic risk.  He explained the fact is,             
 these organizations are aware of the problems caused by the higher            
 risk drivers and support a provisional licensing system.                      
 Number 290                                                                    
 MS. HENSLEY stated from the Department of Public Safety--from an              
 enforcement standpoint--and the DMV within Public Safety, both                
 support HB 57.  She indicated it was a good measure to save lives.            
 She reiterated Mr. Logan's point that youth drivers are over                  
 represented in the number of licensed drivers the state of Alaska             
 has.  She explained the graduated license system is a restricted              
 license program allowing youth drivers to learn over a period of              
 time with restrictions imposed.  She explained the intent was to              
 help beginners learn to drive step by step by controlling their               
 progression toward a full driving privilege.  She explained the               
 restrictions are lifted gradually and systematically until the                
 driver acquires an unrestricted license.  She indicated this system           
 is beneficial in two ways:  One, it insures that the new driver has           
 accumulated the practical experience needed in low risk settings;             
 and, second, it also means drivers are older and more mature by the           
 time they obtain their unrestricted license.  She reiterated her              
 comment on the over representation youth drivers have in Alaska.              
 She explained only 6.2 percent of all licensed drivers are between            
 the ages of 16 and 20, and involved in 12.9 percent of all total              
 crash accidents in the state and 28.8 percent of the mentioned age            
 group are involved in the total crashes involving fatalities.  She            
 added this particular age group is over represented nationwide, not           
 just Alaska.  She added with regards to the states that have                  
 implemented a graduated driver license program, California and                
 Maryland have recorded a 5 percent reduction in the total crashes             
 between the ages of 15 through 17.  She mentioned Maryland has                
 reported a 10 percent reduction in traffic convictions.  She said             
 Oregon reported a 16 percent reduction in crashes for male drivers,           
 ages 16 to 17, which indicated the monetary value decreases on the            
 cost of insurance in the state as well as the amount of crashes,              
 fatalities and injury accidents.  She indicated there are several             
 stages in implementing this program, if Alaska decides to adopt it.           
 First, there needs to be a learner's stage, then an intermediate              
 stage, then a full license can be obtained.  She reiterated Mr.               
 Logan's point that the various agencies support this legislation.             
 She mentioned the American Association of Motor Vehicle                       
 Administrators, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the               
 International Chiefs of Police, Alaska Peace Officers Association,            
 the National Association of Governor Highway Safety                           
 Representatives, National Safety Council and the National                     
 Transportation Safety Board all support HB 57.  She stated as a               
 driver license administrator in Alaska, she felt a graduated                  
 license program has the potential to reduce the number of injuries            
 and fatalities, also having the potential to reduce youth crime               
 occurring between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.  Ms. Hensley                 
 welcomed any questions from the Committee.                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS asked for confirmation on the $163,000                
 fiscal note for HB 57.                                                        
 MS. HENSLEY explained the fiscal note shows $162,000 in new revenue           
 coming into the state.  She explained the new revenue was from the            
 amount for driver's licensing.  She indicated there is a $15 fee              
 for taking the road test and HB 57 implements an additional $10 fee           
 to go from a provisional license to a full license.  She explained            
 there is a $100 fee for reinstating a person's driver's license in            
 the event they lose their license due to point accumulation.  She             
 explained the revenue is generated in program receipts from the               
 additional work DMV would be conducting.  She indicated only North            
 Carolina and Alaska applied for the incentive grants offered to all           
 states by the National Highway Safety Administration to implement             
 or to study an implementation of a graduated license program.                 
 Alaska's grant was $77,000 and is reflected on the fiscal note.               
 She indicated the total operating cost is $126,000 with only                  
 $49,500 of that from the general fund revenue and $77,000 is the              
 federal receipts from the grant received.  She indicated there is             
 a total income of $163,000 to the department.                                 
 Number 385                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if the reason Alaska and North Carolina                  
 received the grant was due to the other states previously having              
 the grant.                                                                    
 MS. HENSLEY indicated no this was not the reason.  She stated she             
 was happy and proud that Alaska was awarded the grant and is giving           
 Alaska some national recognition in terms of progressive action on            
 a driver license system.  She indicated Alaska has the lowest crash           
 rate and fatalities in the nation, as far as the lowest reduction             
 in accidents last year.                                                       
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS introduced Mr. Mark Johnson to testify on HB 57.               
 Number 400                                                                    
 MARK JOHNSON, Chief, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Department             
 of Health and Social Services, stated he supported HB 57.  He                 
 explained that motor vehicle trauma is the number one cause of                
 hospitalization and number two cause of death following suicide,              
 for the 15 through 24 year age group.  He indicated that data is              
 collected from every hospital in Alaska on every injury admitted to           
 a hospital.  He said they have that data from 1991 through most of            
 1994.  He mentioned all the statistics that are seen nationally               
 apply in Alaska and the mentioned age group is represented at about           
 double the rate of percentages of the drivers in injury                       
 hospitalizations and deaths.  He added with respect to                        
 hospitalization costs, the mentioned age group cost an average of             
 $20,000 per patient which does not include other charges billed               
 separately, such as physicians, ambulances, rehabilitation and                
 other expenses.  He referred to the question relating to the                  
 evaluation of these programs, the more data acquired by EMS or                
 Public Safety, the greater the ability of evaluation on the                   
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS recognized for the record that Representative                  
 Jeannette James arrived at 2:45 p.m. and asked if she had heard               
 testimony on HB 57 last year.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES said no she had not.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS requested HB 57 be moved out of the House             
 Transportation Committee with individual recommendations and                  
 attached fiscal notes.                                                        
 Number 435                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if there were objections.  Hearing none, HB 57           
 was moved out of the House Transportation Committee.                          

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