Ark. Senate Passes Teen Driving Rules; Highway Bond Measure

March 16, 2007

Teenage drivers in Arkansas would have more restrictions on their driving privileges under Senate Bill 196, which recently passed the state Senate.

According to the Senate announcement, teens with a learner’s permit or an intermediate license would not be able to use a cell phone while they are behind the wheel. Also, they could not carry more than one other teenaged passenger, and they would be prohibited from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

SB 196 has exceptions, and the prohibitions would not apply if there is an adult in the car. Also, teens could drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. if they are going to work or to school, and in cases of emergency.

The Senate also passed HB 1716, which requires motorists to signal before changing lanes.

In addition, a $575 million bond issue for improvements to Arkansas interstate highways would go before voters, under Senate Bill 840.

The bonds would be paid off with a portion of federal highway funds that Arkansas is anticipated to receive, as well as with revenue from a 4-cent-a-gallon increase in the diesel tax authorized in 1999. The Highway and Transportation Department last year completed upgrades to 356 miles of Arkansas interstates, and highway officials say renewed bonding authority is essential for keeping them in proper maintenance.

The bond issue would have to be approved by voters in a statewide election. Senate Bill 840 is part of the highway package under consideration this legislative session. There are legislators who also want to spend $100 million from the state’s budget surplus on highways.

Source: Arkansas State Senate

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