New bill may delay teen drivers

By Sara Story
Posted By Michael Hetrick

Before they reach a milestone, your teenagers may need more miles behind the wheel. A proposed state law could more than double the amount of time on the road teens will need before getting their drivers license.

Jim Wooldridge remembers when his grand daughter wrecked her car. It happened less than nine months after she got her driver's license.

"There were cars backed up. She swerved into the ditch but still hit a pickup truck... she totaled the car...her airbags went off," said Wooldridge. She wasn't hurt, but Wooldridge said the wreck happened because of his grandaughter's lack of driving experience.

"She had no conception of how you needed to be careful at that spot."

Texas Housebill 339 addresses Wooldridge's concern. It increases the amount of behind the wheel instruction time from fourteen hours to thirty-four hours for new drivers.

"Whenever you take anywhere from one and a half to two tons of steel and move it at a speed, you can have a very negative outcome and people need to be trained better. I support this completely!" said Rand Huzenlaub, the owner of Easy Street Defensive Driving.

The Texas Education Association says the extra hours of instruction will be parents' responsibility.

"Our job is to come up with the additional information that needs to be added to the curriculum and then pass this on to the schools so they know what exactly to instruct... and then what information a parent needs to produce the additional 20 hours of instruction," said Victor Alegria, TEA Director of Driver Training.

While defensive driving teachers and experienced drivers say this bill is a step in keeping roads safe, young drivers like Jeremy Goldman have their own opinons.

"I think it is not really cool at all, because I mean, why? If a kid wants to get his license, why do you need to make it so hard?" said Goldman.

Wooldridge says that like many things in life, drivers become more seasoned with time. "I think she would have understood more of the consequences of not thinking ahead," said Wooldridge.

If the bill passes, it could go into effect as early as May of next year.

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