Getting tough on young teen drivers

Apr 13, 2010, 1:17 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

A new PEMCO insurance poll that finds most Washington drivers want tougher penalties for teen drivers who violate the law while they’re still learning how to drive.

teendriverI’m being forced to learn about teen driving laws because I have an almost 15-year-old who wants to learn how to drive this summer.

A 2001 law makes it illegal for newly-licensed teens to drive with passengers under 20 years old who are not immediate family members. They can’t drive unaccompanied between 1:00 and 5:00 in the morning. State law also requires parents to accompany their teens for 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, before teens can get their driver license. These rules make up the state’s intermediate license law.

A PEMCO poll released today shows that 51 percent of licensed drivers believe that any violation of these teen driving laws should be strengthened from a secondary to a primary offense.

This study shows most parents enforce teen driving laws. Really? That wasn’t my experience a few years ago when a 15-year-old driver named Whitney slammed into the back of my parked mini-van. The teen was driving with four others in her car, music blaring, luckily everyone was okay. A few hours later I got a call from her mom who begged me not to report the accident. She was worried about their insurance rates going up “again,” she said.

When PEMCO asked drivers if intermediate license laws are enforced in their own households, 84 percent of parents said yes. And three out of four parents have their own driving rules on top of the state law. I’m curious about the parent-imposed laws. Please share any rules you made up for your teen drivers.

PEMCO is also promoting their interactive teen driving website which looks helpful, though I can’t imagine most teens sitting down to look at statistics and tips they should know before they hit the road.

An article in the Yakima Herald a couple of months ago found fewer young people are getting their drivers license’s now compared to a few years ago. Nationally, only 31 percent of 16-year-olds got their licenses in 2008, compared with 45 percent in 1988. One reason could be the expense. It costs up to $600 for teen driver education. Wow. I am not ready for this.

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Getting tough on young teen drivers