Teen drivers under the microscope
Posted at 12:05 PM on March 27, 2008 by Michael Marchio (1 Comments)
The House just finished its vote on SF2822, I'll have a post on that and dole out floor-a-palooza points this afternoon.
In the meantime, here are a couple of interesting bills to chew on.
HF4129, introduced today by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), would require provisional license holders, for the first six months after being issued the license, to drive with no more than two other passengers under 18 in the car unless accompanied by a parent. If they're caught doing so, it would be a petty misdemenour.
I did a little digging, and found this from the state's Department of Public Safety.
The risk of fatal injury to a 16- or 17-year-old driver increases significantly with the number of passengers. When a teen driver is carrying three or more passengers, the death rate is three times greater than if there is no one else in the car. The risk of death for 16-year-old drivers with passengers is: - 39 percent higher with one passenger. - 86 percent higher with two passengers. - 282 percent higher with three passengers.
Seems like Rep. Garofalo has some facts behind him. No committee hearing scheduled for that one yet.
Another bill, HF3726 sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL- Minneapolis), would ban people from sending text messages while driving. While there's nothing in that one to suggest that its directed at teens, lets face it, not a lot of seniors are text messaging while driving. The Commish has to admit, he's tried to send a text message while driving and it is incredibly distracting.
Check out a post from our own Nanci Oleson at the How's the Family blog about driving distractions. She wrote that "Using a cell phone while driving impairs the driver to the same degree that having a blood alcohol level of .08 would. That's the level that is considered 'driving while intoxicated'."
Since text messaging seems like its only taken off in the last couple years, I haven't been able to find any studies that show how distracting, statistically, it has proven to be, but I'd guess its more like 1.5 if regular calls are .08.
This one has gone through Transportation Finance and Public Safety Committees, so it looks like it might have some legs. The Senate version SF3562, looks stalled in the Transportation Committee, but its author is none other than the chair, Sen. Steve Murphy, so it might get going any day now.
Ms. Oleson is correct. According to the British Medical Journal, a study was conducted regarding the risk of biological effects from using cell phones (e.g., do they cause brain cancer or some such) ... they noted:
"The only established health hazard cited by the independent group comes from the use of mobile phones while driving. The risk of an accident increases with age and is equivalent (when braking times are measured) to a blood alcohol level of 0.05%. The risk is the same when the phone is used "hands free" (via a loudspeaker), implying that it is due to the distraction caused by the conversation."
British Medical Journal: 320(7245): 1288
Posted by GopherMPH | March 27, 2008 3:38 PM