A recommendation to raise the age for getting a driver’s license from 16 to 17 or 18 is sure to generate a lot of debate.
On Sept. 9, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report that called for states to delay licensure for teens. That same day, the president of the research group funded by the auto insurance industry presented the proposal at the annual conference of the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Supporters of the proposal argue that raising the driving age will save lives. The Institute for Highway Safety cites teen fatality rates in New Jersey and Connecticut as proof. In New Jersey, where the licensure age is 17, the fatality rate for 16- and 17-year-old drivers was 18 per 100,000. In Connecticut, where the licensure age is 16, the fatality rate is 26 per 100,000.
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, the 16- to 20-year-olds comprised the most overrepresented age group in fatal traffic accidents in the state during 2007.
Opponents – including some parents who will have to shoulder the continued responsibility for chauffeuring busy teens – don’t think raising the driving age is the answer. Margaret Menotti, a mother in Uxbridge, Mass., said to the Associated Press: “Do we really want our kids dependent upon parents for virtually everything until they go to college, can vote and serve their country?”
Some are pushing for a third alternative which would include passing laws that would ban teens from using cells phones or texting while driving, impose stricter curfews and requiring teens who are ticketed with moving violations to attend education programs.
The public policy debate over the teen driving age won’t end in the near future. However, at The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. we think it is important that teens are made aware of some of the dangers on the road so that they will become defensive drivers.