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Graduated Teen Licensing To Become Federally Mandated?

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Teenage crashes cost U.S. $34 billion annually

Teenage crashes cost U.S. $34 billion annually

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The days of unrestricted driver's licenses at age 16 are, for the most part, long gone. Yet not all states have acted to reel in teen drivers and help keep them safe.

Now, the federal government is poised to step on what, some would argue, is each state's domain. A bill introduced to Congress this week could set mandatory federal standards for licensing—and restricting—teen drivers.

The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act (STANDUP), introduced in the Senate would set minimum standards in all states for graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs, which has been proven to reduce deaths and injuries among the least experienced drivers.

If states fail to comply with the new standard, the federal government could withhold a specific amount of federal highway money each year.

Although most states now have graduated licensing rules, they vary significantly from state to state and several don't even require supervised driving at the learning stage. Most have nighttime restrictions, but some place restrictions on teen passengers.

According to the bill's sponsors, Senators Gillibrand and Klobuchar, and Congressmen Tim Bishop and Chris Van Hollen, those with strong GDL rules have seen up to a 40-percent reduction in teen-driver crashes.

In 2009 alone, more than 5,600 people were killed in accidents involving drivers age 15 to 20; and the annual cost of teen-driving crashes has been estimated at more than $30 billion.

Under the bill, teen drivers in all states would have a minimum of six months at the learner's permit stage, followed by at least six months with a restricted license; unrestricted licenses would be the domain of those 18 or older. That would be a major change for a number of states, as in some of them full, unrestricted licenses are granted to those under 18 after a restricted period.

[Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; CNN]

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Comments (10)
  1. I believe the stat for cost of crashes of over $30 billion, not $30 million. Can you confirm?

  2. Teach teens how to make smart choices and you wont need this bill...

  3. Another reason to get this administration out. They have no Constitutional power to do this whatsoever. Powers not DELEGATED to the Federal government are reserved to the People and the States. Roads and what drives upon them are the property and responsibilities of the respective states. The nanny government is again attempting to blackmail states with withheld funds.

  4. I have been talking about this for years, I think this is a great idea. It's scary and irresponsible to let these inexperienced drivers loose onto public roads without restrictions.
    Just as when I was a teenager getting my license and still in high school, these young people have far too many distractions, e.g., friends, phones, ipods, mixed and confused emotions, uncertainty, etc, to be safe and responsible drivers without some experience under their belt.
    I always said that a person should have to be 18 years old to get a drivers license, but I think this is a better solution to have them start getting practice with restrictions prior to getting a full, unrestricted license.
    This could create many better drivers, but I wonder how they would handle someone over the age of 18 that has never had a license before? Would they be held to the same standards and restrictions to gain the same type of experience prior to being allowed to jump behind the wheel?
    Now if only we could arrange refresher courses for the exsisting 75%+ of the drivers out there who apparently, desparately need it.

  5. That figure should be $34 BILLION, not million. That number comes from a 2008 study done by AAA, using 2006 data.

  6. What administration are you talking about? This bill was sponsored by Congressional members, not the White House. This is not a mandate as described by the editor of this page (which conceivably violates CarConnection's Editorial policy on honest, unbiased reviews. Withholding federal funding to states who do not comply is not a mandate since the State still gets to decide what it wants to do. This bill will certainly be an incentive for parents and their wallets to teach their children how to make smart choices. Fewer crashes equals safer highways and an economical return on investment. Win-win.

  7. Another overreach proposed by the nanny state Federal government. This is clearly a matter for the States.

  8. @Jenny, -- Thanks, though these issues were corrected very early on and I'd recommend reloading, as I suspect you're seeing a cached copy.

  9. @Richard, We're reporting on a bill introduced to Congress. The word 'mandates' doesn't necessarily refer to an order issued by the executive branch -- "to make mandatory, as by law, decree." The law would require compliance; states that didn't comply would be penalized. That sounds like a mandate to me.

  10. Too many accidents in Florida parking lots from Senior citizens - FORCE everyone to get new drivers test every 5 years or else get off the roads

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