Washington ranks among the top 10 safest states for drivers, and all that’s keeping it from a higher ranking is – you guessed it – stricter teen-driving laws.
The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety named the 15 laws most responsible for safety, and Washington has legislated 11 of them. The four remaining laws involve intermediate licensing of under-18 drivers. Safety advocates would like to see:
- Minimum age of 16 to get a learner’s permit. Washington’s current law enables permits at age 15½.
- Tighter night-driving restrictions. Currently, young drivers cannot be on the road between 1 and 5 a.m.
- Tighter restrictions on passengers. Right now, new drivers can’t have passengers under age 20 unless they’re family members. After six months of driving, they can have up to three passengers under age 20.
- Unrestricted license at age 18. The law now enables teens to have an unrestricted license as early as age 17.
I’m not aware of a firm effort to tighten these teen-driver laws during the current legislative session.
As a point of reference, Oregon and Illinois rank at the top of the list for safety, each with 12 of the 15 laws enacted.