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Tod Bowman

Herald Staff Writer

The Legislature’s efforts to reduce accidents among Iowa’s teen drivers are paying off.

The number of fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers in Iowa has dropped significantly over the last 10 years, according to a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

We had just one fatal crash involving a 16-year-old driver in 2010. In 2001, there were more than 20 deaths among 16-year-olds on Iowa roads.

The number of crashes involving 18-year-old drivers has also fallen, from 3,947 in 2001 to 1,900 last year.

We all benefit when teen drivers are better prepared to get behind the wheel.

The key to our success here in Iowa is our graduated driver’s licensing system.

It requires teenagers to earn an instruction permit and intermediate license before being eligible for a full license.

This year, I worked to strengthen Iowa’s graduated driver’s licensing system by requiring young drivers with an instruction permit to drive for one year accident-free and violation-free before advancing to an intermediate license.

Currently, Iowa teens must have a clean driving record with an instructional permit for only six months.

Extending the requirement to a year would give teen drivers more time to experience all seasons and road conditions.

Teens are much more likely to have an accident when their friends are in the car.

In one study, teenagers ran about 40 percent more yellow lights and had 60 percent more crashes when their friends were passengers.

The legislation I supported this year would have limited the number of passengers during a teen’s first six months with an intermediate license to one person under 21 who is not a sibling or member of the same household.

You can learn more about Iowa’s graduated driver’s licensing standards for teen drivers at

High school students: Apply to be a page

Each year, high school juniors and seniors work as pages at the Iowa Capitol during the legislative session, which generally runs from January through April.

This is an excellent opportunity for students to learn firsthand about state government, work with elected officials, and see how ideas for a better Iowa become legislation.

Job duties include responding to requests from legislators and staff, assisting during committee meetings, and distributing and organizing materials and supplies.

Pages work 40 hours a week and are paid $8.57 per hour.

They may also arrange for academic credit with their high school.

The application deadline for the 2012 session is Oct. 7.

For complete details and an application, go to

Senator Tod Bowman serves the people of Iowa's Senate District 13, which includes Jackson County, northeast Clinton County and southeast Dubuque County.

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