by Sharlyn Petit
Separate fatal crashes that killed three Portland teen drivers last month have Oregon transportation policymakers examining the effectiveness of Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) laws for drivers under age 18.
The teens, from Oregon City and West Linn high schools, were mourned by their communities with a candlelight vigil on Feb. 23.
Oregon lawmakers are now calling for greater teen driving restrictions. Increasing the driving age to 17 or 18, plus adding further restrictions on the hours of driving are part of the discussion.
This OregonLive article is sparking a lot of debate on the topic. Comments include: making driver’s ed a requirement for drivers of all ages, creating stricter laws around cell phone use and texting, expanding the provisions to all new drivers and not just teens, and making driving tests more challenging.
According to research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, stronger GDL laws are having larger effects, and “states that adopt such laws can expect to achieve substantial reductions in crash deaths.”
By comparison, Washington and Oregon have similarly structured GDL laws, such as: minimum age of 15 years old for instruction permit (15½ in Washington without driver’s ed), required supervised driving hours, nighttime driving restrictions, passenger restrictions, and a minimum age for full-privilege driving (17 in Oregon, 18 in Washington).
What do you think? Washington and Oregon recently ranked as two of the top 10 best states for teen drivers, but are the GDL laws in the Northwest strong enough?