DOL: drivers age 15–17 not the worst. Then who are?

As it turns out, Washington’s permitted or licensed 15- to 17-year-olds aren’t the riskiest set of drivers on the road. Who are? Based on research from the Washington State Department of Licensing, those who wait to get their licenses until age 18 are worse drivers than their younger peers.

On average, those receiving licenses after age 18 are three times more likely to receive a citation than those who began driving at 16, and they're more likely to fail their first driving test.

In Washington, more and more teens are delaying licensing. Reasons include not having a car, not needing to drive to get around, and high costs of car ownership and drivers-ed fees.

The lack of restrictions on older new drivers impacts the risk. Studies show intermediate licensing for younger drivers (including passenger and nighttime restrictions), drivers-ed requirements, and logging practice hours all produce better-prepared drivers.

When starting to drive at age 18, all that’s required is a written and in-person driving test. The absence of formal driving instruction concerns state transportation officials.

In fact, the DOL has been working with lawmakers to create a drivers-ed program for 18- to 21-year-olds who haven’t become licensed, but the bill failed to get out of committee this session.

Talking to parents, it seems that teens' attitudes lean strongly one way or another: eager and counting down the days until the driving test, or no interest in driving, ever.

What are your teen's feelings on the licensing rite of passage?

Read more in The Seattle Times article here.

by  Sharlyn Petit

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