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Group: States should raise the driving age

September 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Teenagers who want to start driving at 16 years old may have to wait a year or two.At Taft High School's student parking lot some teenage drivers are in a hurry. They are running late to class and according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety they run the risk of becoming a statistic.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens. The safety group is calling on states to raise the age -- saying 16-years-old is too young.

"I think it is too young because I know a lot of people and they are pretty immature. Seeing them on the road is a little scary. But there are certain kids that are ready for it. So I do not know if that privilege should be taken from certain kids," said Jelani Rhon, a student getting his license.

Rhon is turning 16-years-old next month and his father says he is ready to get behind the wheel. Waiting a year might not make a difference.

"He is going to be out there eventually anyway. In another year or so you are not going to be able to control it. I guess this is a good time to test him," said Jelani 's father, Lagrande Rhon.

The rate of crashes, fatal and nonfatal, per mile driven for 16-year-old drivers is almost 10 times the rate for drivers ages 30 to 59, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.

"I really do think it would make a great difference, but I think it is probably a good idea because there are some crazy drivers around here. Some of these kids are really immature," said teen driver, Jane Siegelin.

While most teens look forward to driving some are in no hurry to have their own set of car keys.

"They feel to scared to drive. And their parents feel that it would be much safer if they drove when they are 18," said Jessica Sheldon, who is waiting to drive.

Graduated licensing, which is the practiced in California requires a 16-year-old to have 50 hours behind the wheel with a parent before they can get a license. They also are not allowed to have younger passengers in the car for the first year unless an adult is present.

The measures are aimed at making teens less accident prone on the road.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says raising the driving age may be a tough sell, but it's something for many states to consider.

 

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