Senate Update: Two efforts by legislature for safer Iowa communities
by Bob Dvorsky, State Senator · Op-Ed · May 10, 2013

While no law can prevent all accidents, tougher license requirements for people learning to drive have been shown to help.

That is why the Legislature has voted to make Iowa roads safer with two key changes to our state’s graduated driver licensing program that take effect Jan. 1, 2014. Forty-five other states with similar laws have benefited from a decrease in the number of fatalities and accidents on their roads.

Under Senate File 115:

1. Drivers under 18 must hold an instruction permit for a full 12 months. This will give teens a chance for supervised driving practice in all four seasons. The most dangerous time for new drivers is in the first six months, but accident rates decrease with each additional month behind the wheel.

2. Drivers under 18 are allowed only one unrelated passenger in the vehicle during their first six months with an intermediate license. Parents may opt their teen out of this restriction. Studies show that accident rates jump dramatically when young drivers have young passengers in the car.

In other efforts to ensure greater safety for Iowans, we’ve included nearly $9 million for Victim Assistance Grants to programs that help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the Justice System Budget. Senate File 447 is now in conference committee, which is working out the final details.

Thousands of Iowans are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault each year.

To help, the Legislature is moving to modernize state services for victims and better meet the needs of survivors. The proposed approach includes:

• Mobile assistance, which allows victims to choose where to meet with advocates.

• Helping victims quickly secure permanent, safe housing.

• Financial or legal counseling for those seeking protective orders, divorce, child custody and support.

• Limited cash assistance to help pay rent and security or utility deposits.

Doing a better job of helping the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault will make Iowa a safer, healthier place to live.

To contact Senator Dvorsky during the week, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at home at 319-351-0988. E-mail him at

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