Federal Teen Driving Legislation Gains Bipartisan Support From Transportation Cabinet Officials in Previous Administrations

Jul 05, 2011, 14:30 ET from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

WASHINGTON, July 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In anticipation of possible legislative action in both the House and Senate on a multi-year surface transportation authorization bill, two former U.S. DOT Secretaries sent letters of support for federal teen driving legislation last week to Congressional leaders urging enactment of the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act, H.R. 1515 and S.528.  The bipartisan legislation is also endorsed by more than 150 national, state and local organizations including parents, teens, the American Academy of Pediatrics, MADD, emergency doctors and nurses, law enforcement, first responders, consumer, health and safety groups, and insurance companies and trade associations representing domestic and international auto manufacturers.  

House and Senate committees are each in the midst of drafting their versions of multi-year, transportation legislation authorizing funding for surface transportation programs, with highway and auto safety issues included as one of the titles of the omnibus bill.  Legislation may be considered this summer.

The text of the letter reads as follows:

"Although we both served as Secretary of Transportation in two different Administrations, belong to different political parties and were legislators in two different Congresses, there are many things we share in addition to our friendship and respect.  We both have a passion and commitment to advancing and improving safety on our nation's streets and highways.  It is for this important reason that we write you.  Teen driving crashes are a major public health problem that imposes an enormous economic and emotional toll on our families and our communities.  The number one killer of teens is motor vehicle crashes.  Each year more than 5,000 people die and thousands more are injured in teen-related crashes, including teen drivers themselves, their teen passengers, and others who share the road with them.  Over 90,000 people have been killed in these needless tragedies since 1999.

As a leader of a key congressional committee, we strongly urge you to support and include the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act, S.528, in your committee bill authorizing surface transportation programs.  The bi-partisan STANDUP Act is based on years of extensive peer-reviewed research as well as recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board and others, on successful, cost-effective programs known as Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws for reducing teen driving crashes, saving lives and supervising inexperienced teen drivers while they learn the rules and responsibilities of driving.  

Strong state GDL laws have been proven to reduce the crash risk of new teen drivers, but many states have gaps in their laws that put teens at serious risk.  In the past, whenever there has been an urgent need to protect motorists in every state and we have a proven public health solution, Congress has shown leadership and passed federal legislation to accelerate state action.  As a result, today in our country, every state has a 21 Minimum Drinking Age, a .08% BAC law, a zero tolerance BAC law for underage drinking and driving, and all states are subject to a uniform system for licensing commercial drivers.  These laws have saved tens of thousands of lives.  

We are now at a critical crossroads with regard to teen driving.  Every teen in every state should have the same protections when learning to drive.  This is why we urge you to enact the STANDUP Act which is supported by parents, teens, pediatricians, emergency doctors and nurses, law enforcement, safety groups and the insurance and auto industries.  Your leadership now will continue the legacy of advancing important safety measures as part of the surface transportation authorization bill.  

Please take this important step toward final enactment of the STANDUP Act by showing your support for S.528 (H.R.1515)."  


Elizabeth H. Dole

Norman Y. Mineta

U.S. Secretary of Transportation

U.S. Secretary of Transportation

(1983 – 1987)

(2001 – 2006)

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (www.saferoads.org) is a coalition of insurance, consumer, health, safety and law enforcement organizations that work together to advance state and federal highway and vehicle safety laws, programs and policies.

SOURCE Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety