NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

SAFETY FEARS, INSURANCE COSTS, NEW LAWS PUSH BACK AGE WHEN TEENS START TO DRIVE

May 1, 2006

The proportion of 16-year-olds who hold licenses has dropped four percentage points since 2001 to 30 percent, part of a 10-year decline totaling more than 12 points since the mid-1990s, says the Wall Street Journal.

Here's why:

  • Some 45 states now impose three-stage driver's license requirements, including an intermediate stage after the learner's permit, before a full license is granted, which means it generally takes teens longer to complete the process.
  • Additionally, parents are being more protective, because they are scared by both the hazards and the high insurance premiums associated with driving at 16, says a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The trend of declining young drivers poses challenges for parents, not the least of which is dealing with sullen 16-year-olds who are chafing to drive, say the Journal. But it promises to reduce high teen car-crash rates and ease parents' worries and costs, says the Journal:

  • Fatal car crashes among all 16-year-olds, drivers and nondrivers, have declined by 26 percent since 1993.
  • By not adding a 16-year-old to auto insurance policies, hundreds of dollars are saved on premiums.

Source: Sue Shellenbarger, "Safety Fears, Insurance Costs, New Laws Push Back Age When Teens Start to Drive," Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2006.

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114609575799637052-search.html?KEYWORDS=sue+shellenbarger&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month

 

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