New teen driving restrictions have begun

On January 1 of this year, some new restrictions took effect for North Dakota teen drivers.  According to legislators, the intent of the new restrictions was to make North Dakota roads and teens safer.  In 2010, teens in North Dakota were involved in 20 percent of all crashes in the state.

According to the North Dakota Insurance Department, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers here and across the country – more than deaths from homicide, suicide, other non-traffic accident, drug overdoses or other illnesses.  New beginning this month, teens need to wait 12 months and have more experience in certain driving conditions such as driving on ice and snow, gravel roads, night driving, and rural and urban driving.

New permit rules include:

  • Young drivers will need 50 hours of driving experience in the above mentioned driving conditions.
  • 15-year-olds who apply for a permit will need to keep the permit until the age of 16, or for 6 months, whichever is longer.
  • 14-year-olds who apply for a drivers’ permit will need to wait at 12 months before taking the driving test instead of the current 6 months.

New teen driving restrictions include:

  • Teens under 16 cannot drive between 9:00 p.m. (or sunset, whichever is later) and 5:00 a.m. until they turn 16. However, they can drive during those hours if an adult is in the front seat or if the teen is traveling to work, school or a religious activity.
  • Teens under 16 cannot talk on phone while driving.

It should be noted that these are secondary violations.  This means that law enforcement must stop a violator for a different offense (e.g. speeding) before any citation can be issued.

According to Gene LaDoucer, Director of Public and Government Affairs, AAA North Dakota, these restrictions were not the original ideas presented to the 2011 legislature, but were thought to be the ones most likely to pass.  LaDoucer expects more proposed changes in the 2013 legislative session.

(Mike Austin is the School Resource Officer at Davies High School. He can be reached at Michael.Austin@fargo.k12.nd.us. Information in this piece is culled from “The ND Capital and Beyond” blog by Teri Finneman. For more details, read the blog post of December 28, 2011.)

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