Michigan Approves Additionals Restrictions on Graduated Licenses

Teenagers will find tougher restrictions this spring when a law passed at the end of the legislative session goes into effect.

Restrictions on Michigan’s graduated licenses for 16-year-olds will include:

• No driving from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless traveling to and from a place of employment. That’s changed from midnight to 5 a.m.
• Only one passenger age 20 and under, unless accompanied by a parent or an adult over age 21 designated by the parent. There are exceptions for driving to and from school and school events.

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These are good restrictions that will help save lives. Indeed, a Centers for Disease Control analysis released in October found a 38 percent drop in 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal accidents between 2004 and 2008. The analysis attributed the drop to tougher graduated licensing restrictions passed by the states.

The CDC found 9,644 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal accidents during that five-year span, causing more than 11,000 deaths. The study recommended that states periodically review their graduated licensing to make adjustments.

Michigan did just that, taking steps to further reduce two of the most dangerous situations for young drivers: inexperience at night driving and difficulty coping with distractions caused by passengers.
The CDC analysis specifically noted that the data don’t indicate improvement in the skills of young drivers as much as tougher laws that are keeping more teen drivers out of dangerous situations.

The Automobile Association of America, which advocated for tougher restrictions, noted that Michigan had been one of only eight states with no restrictions on passengers carried by young drivers, even though it had been among the front runners when adopting graduated licensing in 1997.

Sadly, lawmakers missed a chance to make the roads safer still by banning the use of cell phones in cars. The revisions to the state’s young driver law originally called for a ban on cell phone use, which was dropped before final approval.

Of course, that restriction should not be limited to teens on a graduated license. Research shows that driving while talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving while impaired. The Legislature passed a ban on text messaging while driving last year, but failed to ban talking on cell phones while driving. With a new legislative session opening, that’s one bill Michigan could use.

Source: LSJ.com