Bill would let kids start driving themselves to work when they’re 14 and a half

DES MOINES — Iowa law lets teenagers start driving themselves to and from school or to work on a farm when they’re 14-and-a-half. A bill ready for debate in a senate committee would let teens drive themselves to any kind of job if they’re at least 14 and a half years old.

Republican Senator Adrian Dickey of Packwood says the proposal comes out of a study that also recommends suspending drivers’ licenses for minors who get traffic tickets or cause accidents.  “Not only do you lose that privilege for three months,” Dickey says. “You lose your ability to get your license (at) 16 — the one everyone covets — you lose it for three more months.”

Chaney Yeast, a lobbyist for Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, says allowing younger teens to drive to work is unwise.  “The research tells us there really is a difference in the capability of teen drivers,” Yeast says. “They create a greater risk not only to themselves, but others on the road.”

The bill would set a new limit for driving to school — or work — of 25 miles or 50 miles round trip. It also says a minor would have to be done driving within an hour after school activities or their workday ends.