Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/08/1995 01:35 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 57. 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 impacts. 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.