Group wants driving age raised

September 8, 2008 11:47:45 PM PDT
A Virginia-based auto safety group will make some controversial recommendations Tuesday to a Highway Safety Association in Arizona. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests raising the age for licensed drivers from 16 to 17 or 18.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not think 16-year-olds are ready for life behind the wheel. In fact, their research shows raising the driving age to 17 or 18 would save lives.

"They're putting us down and saying we're not responsible enough," says 16-year-old Raul Aguilar.

"That's generalization. Some 16-year-olds are really mature and some aren't at all, so it all depends on the individual," says 16-year-old Alex Andrews.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 5,000 teenagers die every year in car crashes.

"Youthful drivers take more risks," says Don Browne with Browne Insurance Agency.

Fifteen percent of Don Browne's car insurance clients are under 25. However, he does not agree with the institute's study which was funded by the auto insurance industry. Browne says most insurance companies consider the first three years of driving regardless of age, to be the most risky.

"I don't think there's any difference between a person who's starting to drive at 16 or 18 -- they're both the same exposure until they have experience driving," says Browne.

Driving experience is also what insurance rates are based on. They typically go down about 25 percent after a driver has three years on the road and a good driving record.

For safety reasons, California already has a graduated licensing system for 16-year-old drivers. It means young drivers have a curfew and cannot drive with others teenagers in the car unless an adult over 25 is in the car.


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