Joint Statement: Public Health and Safety Groups Call on Governor Roy Cooper to Retain North Carolina’s Driver License Road Test Requirement and Veto House Bill 158

    • June 19, 2020
    150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2020
    CONTACT: Pete Daniels / pdaniels@saferoads.org / 301-442-2249 (C)

    Joint Statement: Public Health and Safety Groups Call on Governor Roy Cooper to Retain North Carolina’s Driver License Road Test Requirement and Veto House Bill 158

     

     

    The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to the normal functioning of state governments, including the ability to provide services at departments of motor vehicles (DMVs).  Unfortunately, these developments have prompted North Carolina to consider temporarily eliminating the road test requirement for novice drivers seeking a license.  House Bill (HB) 158, which would allow this misguided and unnecessary policy to take effect, passed the legislature and is now pending action by Governor Roy Cooper.  The Governor should veto this legislation because untested young drivers pose real safety risks to themselves and everyone who shares the roads with them.

     

    Shannon Bullock: Director, Safe Kids North Carolina, with 45 local coalitions

    “For many years, states have been passing driver’s license laws to make all of us safer on the roads, including teens.  There’s good reason why the law sets up milestones before a teen can get behind the wheel without restrictions to control an average 2,800-pound auto, including the requirement of a road test.  We hope the Governor will veto this bill so North Carolina can consider other ways to provide teens with restriction-free licenses, including simulations. Until then, patience is a virtue.”

     

    Rick Birt, President & CEO, SADD, with 387 High School, Middle School, and College Chapters in North Carolina

    “SADD has long supported measures that work to keep young people safe, especially as it relates to a leading cause of death and injury—roadway collisions. There is nothing about House Bill 158 that keeps the teens of North Carolina safe. The 387 chapters of SADD across North Carolina call upon Governor Cooper to consider the facts and veto this bill. Ensuring teens have mastered the art and science of driving is critical to ensuring their long-term safety, and our members, those who are the ones waiting to be licensed are willing to wait a little longer to ensure they and their friends remain safe.”

     

    Cathy Chase: President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

    “Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens in the United States.  In 2018, nearly 4,500 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers (age 15-20), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  As both a highway safety advocate and a mother of a teenager who just obtained her learner’s permit after our local DMV reopened, I value the importance of the graduated driver licensing process and the road test to help ensure novice drivers have attained needed skills to drive independently.  Advancing untested drivers would increase risk for all road users.”

     

    Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD: Distinguished Chair in the Department of Pediatrics and Scientific Director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)**

    “Road tests are a necessary final barrier preventing prospective drivers from being ‘green lighted’ onto the roads.  While social distancing protocols remain in place, simulated driving tests and computer-based hazard awareness tests are easy to administer and provide an effective tool for measuring performance prior to road tests.  Some virtual driving platforms can flag applicants who are likely to fail a road exam.  One recent study we conducted projected that using a simulation program to determine readiness for the road test could potentially save thousands of examiner hours that would have been spent on failed road test exams annually in one state.”

     

    Janette Fennell: President and Founder, KidsandCars.org

    “The road test functions as gatekeeper that prevents drivers who lack basic operational skills from putting themselves and others at risk in a roadway environment that challenges even the most experienced drivers.  The most recent report by NHTSA finds that historically, approximately one in five license applicants fail their road test, showing an inability to reasonably control and operate the vehicle.  We urge Governor Roy Cooper to veto HB 158 to maintain this critical safeguard.”

     

    ** The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Dr. Winston each hold a financial interest in intellectual property licensed to Diagnostic Driving as well as in the company itself.  Dr. Winston also serves as Chief Scientific Advisor to Diagnostic Driving.  Dr. Winston operates under a Conflict of Interest Management Plan from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.