Youth driving bill aims to make roads safer

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now)- Statistics from the CDC show traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death among teens. A new bill in the state capitol aims to make South Dakota roads safer by adding more restrictions for young drivers.

Representative Deb Soholt is the sponsor of senate bill 113. Her legislation looks to require younger drivers to have more experience on the road before they can get their license.

"We know that when children learn things they develop muscle memory around it. So it doesn’t matter if you're playing basketball or learning a musical instrument, you have to have a repetitive relationship to anything including driving,” said Rep. Soholt.

This bill would increase the instructional permit period from six months to nine months. It would also require young drivers to have 50 hours of practice behind the wheel before they can earn their restricted minor's license. Some of those hours would have to be at night and others would have to be in bad weather.

“If you did all your driving hours through the summer when the roads are dry and beautiful and great out, you would not have the muscle memory for doing something in more difficult situations,” said Soholt.

This bill also aims to limit distractions for young people learning to drive. It would only allow one young, non-family passenger in the car for those with restricted minor permits.

AAA says they are in support of this legislation.

"There were several tragic accidents involving young teens in 2019 and we just want to do everything we can to protect our young drivers during that learning period,” said Marilyn Buskohl, Public Affairs for AAA.

It's a law that they hope saves a lot of lives in South Dakota.