Congress Proposes STANDUP ACT to Help Curb Teen Auto Accidents

Congress Proposes STANDUP ACT to Help Curb Teen Auto Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents today are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers. In 2009 alone over 2,300 drivers aged 15 to 20 years old died in motor vehicle crashes, 96 of those fatalities were on Illinois roads.

In an effort to stem the number of fatal auto accidents involving teen drivers, Illinois Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Illinois House Representative Randy Hultgren introduced the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act this past March. Also known as the STANDUP ACT, the new law basically establishes federal minimum standards for state GDL programs.

STANDUP ACT Provisions

Basic provisions of the Act include:

  • Mandatory licensing stages: Each state is required to implement three licensing stages. These include: learner’s permit, intermediate stage, and full license.
  • Minimum age requirements: Drivers must be at least 16-years of age to receive a learner’s permit. Drivers cannot complete the full license stage until they reach the age of 18.
  • Passenger requirements: Only one non-familiar passenger under 21 (unless licensed) can be present in the vehicle until the applicable driver completes the full license stage.
  • Night-time driving: Applicable drivers cannot drive unsupervised during nighttime hours until both permit and intermediate licensing stages are completed.

Supporters of the bill say that graduated driver’s licensing initiatives prevent teen car accidents because they help ensure new drivers build driving skills over time in lower-risk driving environments.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

States have three years from the date the Act was passed to implement these GDL standards. The bill gives Congress authority to withhold federal highway funds from states that do not comply with the guidelines set forth in the new bill.

If a state loses funding for a year, the state has the opportunity to recoup the funding, provided the state meet the federal requirements within three years after losing the funding. If a state does not meet the three year deadline, the state permanently forfeits the money.

Currently, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of GDL system in place. For many states, meeting federal guidelines would require only minor amendments to their current laws governing licensing.

Abstract: Congress is considering a new law for federal standards for graduated driver’s license systems in an effort to reduce the number of car accidents involving teen drivers.