New Utah drivers to face extra written test

First-time drivers now will need to pass an extra online test after they complete a driver-education class, thanks to a new law taking effect Friday.

It will be in addition to a test given before drivers obtain a learner’s permit.

HB145, which requires the test, is one of eight laws taking effect New Year’s Day that were passed by the 2015 Legislature and had a later effective date than all but one of the other 523 bills and resolutions passed. (HB36 will not become effective until July 1 and will make some changes to the legal definition of a “veteran.”)

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, sponsor of the driver-testing bill, earlier told legislators he is concerned that while Utah had seen a decline in highway deaths in recent years, fatalities increased by 16 percent in 2014 (and 2015 was on track to exceed that).

Half the questions on the new test must, by law, be related to the top causes of highway deaths in a previous year, such as not wearing seat belts or distracted driving. Eliason said driver-education courses may not adequately cover that information now. Eliason also told lawmakers that the law allows testing to be open-book and available online, and would be a good way to offer education that may save lives.

The Utah Department of Public Safety said the exam will be available at driverlicense.utah.gov. Additional information about the new test may be found at that website or by calling the Driver License Division at 801-965-4437 or toll free at 888-353-4224.

Also taking effect Friday is SB54 by former Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, to allow parents or guardians to freeze credit reporting for minors younger than age 16 and for incapacitated adults. That would help stop others from stealing their identity or taking out loans in their names. Also, HB152 by Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, takes effect Friday to require health insurance companies to disclose to customers whether they allow exchanging child-adoption benefits to fund infertility treatments instead.