A new bill recently introduced in the New York state legislature would place higher standards on student drivers. Senate Bill 8677, introduced by Senator Andrew Gounardes, would require student drivers to take at least six hours of training under a “certified instructor” before they could be issued a license. According to a report by Streetsblog, a parallel bill has been introduced in the state assembly by member Bobby Carroll.
Streetsblog argues that the state’s existing licensure requirements are “notoriously lenient”: under current standards, drivers must obtain their learner’s permit via an “easy written test,” complete 50 hours of driving under the instruction of a licensed adult, complete a five-hour course available online, and pass the state’s road test.
Senator Gounardes criticized these standards in a statement to Streetsblog, asserting that the state’s epidemic of traffic violence can be partially attributed to them. “For some drivers, the first time they take the wheel [as a licensed driver] they are in sole control of their car,” he said. “Why is it legal for a driver to receive their license without ever having taken drivers’ ed courses, or gained supervised experience behind the wheel? Requiring all new drivers to have on-road and drivers’ ed experience is a clear way to ensure all New Yorkers sharing the road are safer, especially when we are losing record numbers of our community members to traffic violence every single week.”
In a separate statement to Streetsblog, Assembly Member Carroll said higher standards will create safer drivers. “It’s reasonable to require folks to take some kind of directed training with a professional,” he said. “The bottom line is that it will mean we have better drivers on the road.”
The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles did not provide a comment to Streetsblog on the new bill, though a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said it’s in the process of evaluating the legislation. More information on the proposed new requirement for student drivers in New York is available via Streetsblog and the State Senate.