Longer curfew for Washington’s young drivers?

Longer curfew for Washington’s young drivers?
A draft Washington State Strategic Highway Safety Plan includes a proposal to impose curfews on new drivers to reduce fatalities. Photo: freepik.com

A draft proposal of the Washington State Strategic Highway Safety Plan Target Zero 2019 includes a list of recommendations to reduce traffic accidents that if implemented would create greater hurdles for young drivers to get their license and extend restrictions after that on how and when they can drive.

Under the current Washington’s Graduated Driver’s License program, residents between 16-17 must first obtain an instruction permit for six months before getting their driver’s license. They must also complete a training course and drive a total of 40 hours in daylight and 10 hours at night with someone who has their driver’s license for five or more years.

But even after they receive their licenses, intermediate drivers still have limitations imposed, including:

  • No passengers under 20 years old for the first six months, with family members excluded;
  • No more than three passengers under 20 years old for the next six months, family members excluded;
  • No driving between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless driving with someone 25 years or old. Exceptions are made for drivers engaging in agriculture-related transporting; and
  • No cell phone use including the use of Bluetooth, unless it’s an emergency call.

Included in the draft Target Zero 2019 proposal are proposed changes, including that curfew hours would be extended to 9 p.m., rather than 1 a.m. However, this curfew would not apply to driving done for school, religious activities or work.

Other suggestions included in the draft plan are:

  • Requiring intermediate drivers have their instruction permit for a year before receiving a license;
  • Extending passenger restrictions by one year;
  • Require a logbook record of hours driven be submitted when applying for a license, along with proof of supervising driver certification; and
  • Increasing the minimum driving hours from 50 hours to 80-100 hours.

According to the draft plan, these recommendations are based on research from the GDL Framework Safety Center regarding young driver safety.

Stakeholders involved include the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington Department of Licensing, Washington State Department of Health, the state Health Care Authority, the Association of Washington Cities and the Washington State Association of Counties.

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