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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Vilsack steps on brakes for teen drivers

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Gov. Tom Vilsack this week is making a pitch for tighter restrictions for young drivers, saying lawmakers won't be able to resist statistics that show the dangers young drivers face.

"It's pretty hard to argue with the numbers," Vilsack said at Lincoln High School, where he presented the final recommendations of a task force he appointed to review rules for young drivers.

Vilsack's office and state transportation officials are drafting legislation to be considered during this year's session, and supporters said approval is certain.

"You can see the priority that everyone is putting on this," said Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls.

Recommendations for drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 include:

* Limiting the number of passengers to one, other than members of the immediate family or adults over 21.

* Banning driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless it's for school or work.

* Banning youngsters from using cell phones while driving, except for emergency calls.

Kevin Techau, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said drivers between the age of 16 and 24 make up roughly 17 percent of motorists in the state, but account for 24 percent of fatalities and 26 percent of serious injuries.

"Driving a car and being a passenger in a car is by far the most dangerous activity you have," Techau said.

Included in the proposal is a registration requirement for kegs containing two or more gallons of beer. The idea is to ensure that teenagers don't have access to alcohol.

"People your age are seven times more likely to suffer an alcohol-related injury than people my age," Vilsack told students at the school. "It takes experience, just like everything else in life."

The measure is named after former state Sen. Tony Bisignano's son, Nick, who was killed in an alcohol-related car crash in December 2004.

Police have said the crash that killed Nick Bisignano and seriously injured passenger Corey Wheeler was the result of Bisignano driving drunk at 90 mph down a Des Moines street after a party.

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