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New bill would require California drivers under 21 to hold provisional licenses

by AirTalk®

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Two teenagers drive a luxury convertible car in the Portals Port on August 09, 2015. Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Assembly Bill 63, introduced by California Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), seeks to up the age new drivers must hold a provisional driver’s license from 18 to 21, in the hopes of reducing teen driving accidents.

A provisional driver’s license comes with a number of restrictions during the first 12 months of use. In California, it limits drivers from operating vehicles between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., and bars them from carrying passengers under the age of 20 unless accompanied by a licensed driver 25 or older.

AirTalk’s Larry Mantle spoke with Steve Barrow, a spokesperson for the California Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health, and Scott Shackford, an associate editor at, to hear both sides of the debate.

"Eighteen- and 19-year-old drivers — new, first-time drivers — have a crash rate 60 percent higher than 16- and 17-year-old drivers that have gone through the provisional license program," Barrow said.  "Their crash rate is incredibly high and incredibly dangerous."

According to Barrow, upping the age requirement for a provisional license would give young adults the benefit of a safer driving experience.  

Shackford disagreed, saying this bill would restrict the right of travel for 18- to 21-year-olds.

"What we're proposing is controlling when adults can drive their vehicles, and that is a restriction of civil liberties," said Shackford. "The reality is, driving is getting safer ... If you look at the larger picture, I really don't see the number that justifies regulations that diminish the rights of young adults to drive."

Interviews have been edited for clarity. To hear the full segment, click the blue playhead above.


Steve Barrow, spokesperson for California Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health, an advocacy organization and supporter of AB  63

Scott Shackford, an associate editor at, the online publication of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian organization. He’s been following the story

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