Graduated drivers#039; license a good idea

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 20, 2002

This past week, the Alabama Senate passed the Graduated Drivers' License bill that, if passed in the House of Representatives, will put further restrictions on teenagers.

If the bill passes in the House, then Alabama will be the 37th state to enact similar legislation. The Alabama House of Representatives has passed similar bills on drivers' licenses in the past, so it is expected that the bill will be approved this go-round.

While our children may feel restricted by the bill should it be signed into law, it would create a greater responsibility for us to ensure that our young drivers are both better educated and practiced at safe driving habits, and would most likely reduce the number of teen-related crimes committed, by causing young drivers to be off the roads late at night.

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The Graduate Drivers' License is definitely a good thing. Most teens throughout the United States begin driving at the age of 15 with a learner's permit, but by the age of 16, most are not completely competent to drive the highways late at night. This new bill is being voted on because of the large number of car accidents that result in teen deaths.

In fact, reported the following facts:

Over 6300 young people between the ages of 16 and 20 died in motor vehicle crashes in 1997;

In 1997, the 16-to-20-year-old age group was involved in over two million vehicle crashes;

The 16 – 20 age group makes up seven percent of licensed drivers, but suffers 14 percent of fatalities and 20 percent of all reported accidents.

One out of four 16-year-old drivers will have a crash in the first year of driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) reports that motor vehicle crashes cost the nation over $150 billion annually, including property damage, medical costs and lost productivity.

On the basis of current population trends, there will be 23 percent more 16-20-year-old drivers on the road in 2010 than there are today

26.1 million.

The 16-year-old population alone will increase from 3.5 million to over 4 million by 2010.

With the teenage-driving population expected to increase, this new bill will give teens more time and practice before taking their turn on the road. The bill will do more than protect just teens, it will protect all Alabamians.