Bill seeks to ease license requirements for adults
Since 1998, in an effort to improve teen safety, Maryland has imposed an escalating series of requirements on new drivers before they can obtain a license. The catch is that in doing so, lawmakers have required adult drivers to jump through the same set of hoops as teens – often at the cost of thousands of dollars.
The result, according to supporters of a bill that would ease up on new adult drivers, is that many lower-income workers have found their path to better employment blocked.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County and Sen. Victor Ramirez of Prince Georges County, comes up for a hearing Tuesday. A House version will be heard later this month. Getting There would like to hear from adults who have been effected by the extra licensing requirements for adults.
The legislation is being promoted by Eugene D’Onofrio, a driver educator who has been an off-and-on critic of the law since it was first adopted. While the self-described “snowbird” wasn’t planning to return from Florida for the hearing, he has hired a prominent Annapolis lobbyist to press for change.
“No state but us makes adults do what they’re doing,” D’Onofrio said.”It’s crazy.”
Andrea Payne Roethke, senior policy analyst with the Job Opportunities Task Force, said her group plans to testifying that the requirements have posed a significant hurdle for low-income workers.
Roethke said the steeper hurdles for new adult drivers in Maryland have not been shown to make driving safer. “Unfortunately, driver’s ed is not proven to improve safety behind the wheel,” he said.
Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said Roethke is correct about the research on driver’s ed.
“For teens, it has no effect,” he said. “There’s no difference in the crashes for those teens who take driver’s ed compared with those who don’t. So we wouldn’t expect it to be any different for adults.”
Adults who have found it difficult to get a license in Maryland because of the extra hurdles here can contact Getting There by leaving a comment with an email address or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.