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‘New driver’ sign for teens required under bill

by caprecord

A big, bright red “new driver” sign could be part of every Clark County teen’s 16th birthday if state lawmakers pass a five-year pilot program aimed at decreasing youth fatalities on the road.

new driverRep. Liz Pike, Camas Republican and prime sponsor of the bill, says although ages 16 to 25 represent only 11 percent of Clark County drivers, they make up 35 percent of fatalities and 45 percent of serious injury accidents within its borders.

“When I’m driving down the road and see one of those student driver cars, I give those student drivers a wide berth,” she said at a hearing Monday. “We need to do everything we can to help them be better drivers.”

House Bill 1159 requires drivers younger than 18 to display a foot-long decal on any car they drive or face 20 hours of community service.

The state Department of Licensing would issue decals along with instruction permits, intermediate and driver’s licenses for $1.50. The department must study the program’s impact on public safety through Dec. 31, 2019 and report back to the Legislature.

New Jersey is the only state with a similar decal program, requiring drivers younger than 21 to display a decal on license plates. Washington’s decal would be placed on the passenger’s side of the back window.

No one testified in opposition of the bill during Monday’s hearing, but Sen. Annette Cleveland said she’s received concerned emails about what the bill could mean for young girls. “Displaying this sticker may also alert others that there is a young girl alone in a car,” the Vancouver Democrat said.

The bill passed the state House 53-44. No action was taken in Senate Transportation on Monday.