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AAA proposes tougher laws for older first-time drivers

With more teens delaying driver's licenses, states may want to reconsider extending their Graduated Driver Licensing laws.

By Clifford Atiyeh Aug 2, 2013 9:37AM
State driving laws aimed at teenagers may need to be extended to all first-time drivers regardless of age, according to a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

As more teens graduate from high school without driver's licenses, they're also passing over state laws designed to protect young drivers from their own inexperience. The result, says AAA, is a pool of riskier first-time drivers -- both young and old -- who are exempt from Graduated Driver Licensing, a system of curfews, passenger restrictions and hourly supervision for those under age 18.

All 50 states have enacted GDL laws to varying degrees, although some states are far more strict than others. In many cases, teens under 18 can't drive without family members in the car until they reach a certain age. Some states even ban teens from using any handheld and mobile devices while in the car.

According to the AAA study, which surveyed more than 1,000 young adults aged 18 to 20 across the country and weighted the results to reflect national demographics, only 44 percent got a driver's license within 12 months of their state's minimum age. Just 54 percent received a driver's license before turning 18; Two decades earlier, AAA found that more than two-thirds of teens 18 and under had a driver's license.
AAA said that teens from low-income families were less likely to be licensed than teens from higher-income families. In particular, black and Hispanic teens made up 63 percent of all surveyed young adults who did not receive a license before age 18 and thus did not have to go through GDL laws. AAA said it found few people who cited GDL laws as the reason for delaying their licenses. Most times, they simply didn't need a car.

"With one in three teens waiting to get their license until they turn 18, there's a segment of this generation missing  opportunities to learn under the safeguards that GDL provides," Peter Kissinger, the AAA Foundation president and CEO, said in a statement. “For most, it's about not having a car or having alternatives for getting around that are the top reasons cited for delaying what has traditionally been considered to be a rite of passage."

Indeed, unemployment and high gas prices are likely factors. At the start of the recession in 2008, the Governors Highway Safety Association found the first significant decline in teen driver deaths.

In March, the GHSA, a nonprofit that represents highway offices in all 50 states, compiled crash statistics on 16- and 17-year-old drivers during the first six months of 2012, the latest data available from each state. In total, 240 teenagers were killed behind the wheel, a 19 percent increase from 2011. That's up from 191 in 2010, the lowest in the past 13 years, but far below the 544 teenagers killed in 2002.

But while drivers 16 to 25 years old represent a significant number of all road crashes and fatalities -- more than 32,000 people died in 2011, and fatalities are again spiking -- they're not the only people who could benefit from more driver training. As one example, it's not uncommon for city dwellers to delay licensing through their 20s. And those who do have licenses may not drive for years on end, which doesn't help anyone when they finally get back behind the wheel.

"Researchers and policymakers should examine whether existing state GDL systems – nearly all of which end once a teen turns 18 -- can be modified to improve safety for these young adult novice drivers," said Justin McNaull, AAA's director of state relations.

So far, no state requires older first-time drivers to pass the tougher tests and restrictions of young drivers -- and mandatory license retests are either used sparingly or for elderly drivers, or not at all. More research is needed to "explore other ways to address the needs of older novice drivers," the report said.

[Source: AAA]
Aug 8, 2013 5:37AM

Sounds to me like a setup for another insurance company government mandated money grab.  Insurance companies are another criminal institution forced on the public by a government gone crazy.


Aug 8, 2013 6:22AM
another auto insurance scam........   
Aug 8, 2013 2:59AM
All this is ,a new way to get more money and pay higher Insurance coat
Aug 2, 2013 1:54PM
Nova Scotia has a graduated license program (other Canadian provinces have similar programs):

Directly from the program info:
All new drivers have to graduate from the first 2 levels before they can get a regular Driver's License. (Note it says ALL new drivers - there are no age definitions anywhere other than minimum 16 years old to get a Beginners.)
1. Beginners - zero blood alcohol level; an Experienced Driver required; no other passengers - minimum 6 months before you can apply & test for the next step
2. Newly Licensed Driver - zero blood alcohol level; only a single passenger in front seat (i.e. no 3-across on a bench seat); passengers allowed in back seat; no driving between midnight and 5am (exemptions are allowed with proper permits, i.e. for work purposes) - minimum 2 full years before you can apply & test for Full License.
3. Full License

If you're 50 years old and just getting your license for the first time, you go through this sequence.
Aug 8, 2013 11:54AM
Triple A is nothing but self serving  money machine, that advances ridiculous theories that bureaucrats love..
Aug 8, 2013 9:42AM

it's,s not just teenagers for tougher driving laws, but also anyone over 75 this includes me by the way.'

They need a driving test, for most Seniors have a slow response, it this is caught, they should not be driving. I am thankful that I haven't had any accidents and my responses are excellent at present, however if they change I'll be glad to turn in my license and have someone else drive.

Aug 9, 2013 1:59AM
Power and control is the reason many laws are created.  Laws that limit speed, tell us what we can eat, wear, smoke, sniff and drink.  Laws that give the wealthy an advantage.  Laws should be based solely on freedom, not the majority.  What the Son has set free, is free indeed!!!
Dec 10, 2013 7:00PM
Insurance rates are terrible for older drivers. For anyone as far as that goes.  I drive only about 2500 miles a  year since im retired and live close to a shopping area.  Ive never had an accident when Ive been driving.  Only one accident when my car was parked unoccupied in the shopping center and someone backed into it. Im in good health, active and have good eyesight.  I drive a little Mazda Miata. It is parked in a locked garage when not being driven.  No other drivers. Im 77.  The last time my policy renewed the premium had gone up quite a bit.  When I asked what happened, I was told it was because of my age, and I dont drive very much.  Did you know  you get penalized if you don't drive a lot because your experience is not adequate?  Ive been driving for 50 years with no accident and have a lot of highway miles too.  I haven't had a ticket for at least 25  years.  Then because of an ugly divorce, my credit, which was always excellent suffered for awhile till I got caught up.  That poor credit period for about 6 months also raised my rates. What does my credit have to do with my driving skills.   I requested quotes from all the large companies and my present company still beats the rates, but I think it is outlandish and not fair that my rate increased for the reasons given..  You are right, its a money making scheme on behalf of the insurance companies..  All age groups should be treated equally.  If you have accidents and tickets it is fair to raise the rates but not if you have an excellent driving record.  Lets write our politicians, although they are so self centered they will only be concerned if they are "older drivers"....
Aug 8, 2013 11:29AM
How about testing and enforcement of driving assessment for teens and elderly drivers?
You'd be AMAZED at the decrease in accidents and insurance rates!

Dec 10, 2013 5:40PM
It is all about money!! The state gets money for a renewal of license and tabs, the insurance gets money and don't forget your insurance goes up after you reach your 70's. My mother is 92 years old and last year went up to North Bend license  in Washington State and was issued a license for five more years. She got out of the car and used her cane and her eye sight is not that great and she also cannot hear well. She claims that she only drives a few miles from home. I say shame on the state for not testing her before they issued a license. God help those who are in her way, I feel sorry for them and there is not a single thing I could do because it would be called discrimination.!!!!!!! Every week you hear about a elderly person who put their foot on the gas meaning to use the brake.
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