Last Modified: Wednesday, August 08, 2012 6:43 PM
The rules for the road just got a lot tougher for first-time drivers in Louisiana.
On. Aug. 1, Senate Bill 667 by state Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, became law, requiring more classroom training and driving time for many teenagers.
All drivers are now required to spend at least eight hours behind the wheel with an instructor before applying for a license. In addition, 17-year-olds applying for a license must have 30 hours of classroom instruction and drivers 18 and older need six hours in the classroom before taking the exam.
“I believe this change will produce safer drivers, reduce accidents and save lives,” Smith wrote in a news release. “It is also a step toward stabilizing and maybe even reducing automobile insurance rates.”
We couldn’t agree more. And we’re not alone.
Jerry Summers, owner of local driving school Summers Driving Academy, said the new law is a step in the right direction — toward safer roads and lower insurance rates.
“I would like Louisiana to be an example for other states,” he said.
The new requirements aim at improving public safety by ensuring that all drivers have at least some experience driving with an instructor, Gwen Dunware, an administrator with the Office of Motor Vehicles, told the Times Picayune newspaper.
Many new drivers were “getting on the streets without any practical driving experience,” she said.
In Louisiana, 15-year-olds can get a permit and drive with a licensed driver in the car after receiving 30 hours of classroom lessons and eight hours of behind-the-wheel driving instruction. Sixteen-year-olds must complete the same education requirements to get a restricted license that allows them to drive during the day.
Smith’s law does not change the requirements for those applicants, and it will not affect those who already have a license in Louisiana or another state.
There is tremendous value in learning to drive with a trained instructor in the passenger seat. Hopefully, other states will follow Louisiana’s lead.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.