State May Tell Teen Drivers to Get to Class

Legislation would require teens spend more time learning behind the wheel

Teenagers may have to spend a lot more time learning how to drive before they get their Texas drivers licenses.

Legislation on the governor's desk would require teenage student drivers to take 34 hours of instruction, 27 of them driving behind the wheel.

Currently, they only need seven hours behind the wheel and another seven hours of observation/instruction, according to Pottsboro Police Chief Brett Arterburn, who pushed for the bill.

Ten of those hours behind the wheel would have to be spent driving at night.

"I think it will give them a bigger variety of situations", said Debra Routh, of One Way Driving School in Lewisville.

Kelsi Sulgrove, 15, of Flower Mound said that while some people may need the extra instruction, the current requirements are enough.

"I think if people need more training, they should sign up for that time, but right now, I'm getting enough," she said.

But her mother had a different view.

"I think it would be much better to have more instruction and actually more driving time," Melodie Sulgrove said. "I mean, the more, the better, and I think the more practice they have is much better."

The Less Tears More Years Act would also require first-time drivers to pass not only the state's written test, but also a roads skills test with a state trooper.

First-time drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 would be required to take a driver's education course.

The law would also extend the graduated driver's license period for teenage drivers from six months to a year, restricting driving during certain hours. During that time, teenage drivers would not be allowed to have more than one passenger who is younger than 21 or use a cell phone while behind the wheel.

"This puts more restrictions on teens driving late at night, it puts more restrictions having young people -- additional young people in the car -- and also puts more restrictions on texting and using the cell phone," said Dan Ronan, of AAA Texas. "In our view, that's a win-win-win."

Gov. Rick Perry has until Sunday to either sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature. If the legislation becomes law, it will take effect Sept. 1.

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