Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown vetoes new restrictions for rookie drivers under 21

A motorist uses an iPhone while driving in Los Angeles in 2011.
A motorist uses an iPhone while driving in Los Angeles in 2011. The Associated Press

Ignoring data that shows young adults are involved in far more vehicle crashes than teenagers who face extensive training behind the wheel, Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday vetoed legislation to place new restrictions on rookie drivers between the ages of 18 and 21.

Assembly Bill 63 would have required 18- to-21-year-old Californians to wait at least 60 days after earning their learner’s permit and complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice to apply for a driver’s license. If they passed the exam, they would also have received a provisional license for one year, with conditions such as no driving privileges between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., and no transporting passengers younger than 20 years without supervision.

“While I understand the author’s intent of needing to address factors that contribute to the unnecessary collisions and deaths of young Californians on our highways, the provisions of this bill create a burden on a segment of adult Californians that are no longer seen as a minor in the eyes of the law,” Brown wrote in his veto message, adding that “efforts would be better focused on teen driver training and education programs that improve transportation safety for provisional drivers.”

Getting a driver’s license when you turn 16 is not the rite of passage it once was. The number of teen drivers nationally has dropped to an all-time low as more Americans wait until they’re older to learn.

California data also shows that 16- and 17-year-olds are at fault for about half as many crashes as drivers ages 18 to 21, which highway safety officials credit to driving instruction rules.

AB 63 was carried by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, whose 20-year-old daughter was killed in a traffic collision. New Jersey and Maryland have enacted similar laws.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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