Teen driving bills pass Senate

A package of four bills trying to improve teen driving safety passed the South Dakota Senate Wednesday — some comfortably, and some narrowly.

A bill standardizing driver education around the state ran into little difficulty, cruising through the Senate 30-5.

Measures forbidding 14- and 15-year-old drivers from using mobile devices while driving, and extending the people those young drivers need to practice before they’re given a restricted permit overcame opposition, passing 26-9 and 21-14. 

But a measure restricting the passengers those young drivers can carry won out by a single vote, passing 18-17.

If it passes, new teen drivers would be limited to one passenger, except for family members or while driving to and from school and school events.

The restrictions in the bills would apply only to drivers with instruction or restricted permits — given to beginning drivers under age 16.

All four now head to the House.

The divide on the four bills was not so much liberal-conservative as it was urban-rural, with rural senators more skeptical of the restrictions on young drivers.