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Question of the day *** Updated x1 ***

Monday, Jan 29, 2007

Should Illinois raise the minimum driving age to 18? Why or why not?

*** UPDATE *** In case you were wondering, I ask this because a recent study found that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers.

In fact, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - ug! - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 9:37 am:

    No, there is already enough government involvement in our lives in Illinois. Kids have to work to help support their families in some cases.

    Better training is the key.

  2. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:00 am:

    I vote yes. I hate to do that, but yes.

  3. - Crimefighter - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:04 am:

    I personally took drivers ed later but who’s pushing changing the driving age to 18?

  4. - RBD - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:05 am:

    It wouldn’t stop the car crashes. You can’t legislate maturity.

    And I don’t think more traditional training will make a difference either.

    We get away, as a society, of giving kids lethal weapons in the military because we require that they go through extensive regimented training. That’s nothing we can afford on a massive basis for driver’s training.

    Prohibiting kids from driving after dark, which seems to be when most accidents happen, won’t work due to the many exceptions that will be needed for work, etc.

    The insurance industry may be able to help by properly assessing the risk of teen drivers. (I know teens that weren’t allowed to drive until they were 18 due to the cost of insurance.)

  5. - Leroy - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:07 am:

    Absolutely…for the same reason we need to ban smoking in restaurants and ban trans fat.

    It will make us all safer.

  6. - He Makes Ryan look like a saint - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:15 am:

    Moving to 18 would cut down on the death rates of 16-17 year olds, but increase it for the 18-19 year olds. I think 16 is good, only limit the Horse Power in the cars kids are allowed to drive.

  7. - zatoichi - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:16 am:

    No, just enforce the existing rules. Teens can be stupid drivers, but I have seen many more adults who are, well, “stupider”. How many times do you read in your local paper some yahoo with multi DUIs just got picked up for speeding again? Plenty of “adults” getting in serious driving problems. If GA feels the need to change the rules: Ban the use of cell phones while driving.

  8. - Just Because - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:20 am:

    Yes- Make it an incentive to graduate high school for one. Plus I understand teenagers need a part time job. But I really feel having a job and buying and maintaining a car hurts them in their studies. The focus should be a better education. More time to be a teenager with school activates, sports and studying. I feel 18 is a much better age requirement. This would also give them more time to practice driving.

  9. - grand old partisan - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:22 am:

    Are there any stats showing a significant difference between the accident rates of 16 year olds and 18 year olds? (and to the extent there is a difference, how much can be chalked up to new-driver mistakes that would happen at any age?)

    My guess is that there wouldn’t be much of a difference. Think about it, how much does the average teenager “mature” between sophomore year and senior year? If you are irresponsible and reckless at 16, you’re probably going to still be that way until 18.

    I think that some of the new restrictions that have been adopted in recent years make sense. And in light of those new rules, I think raising the age completely would do more to punish working teens and those active in school activities and family responsibilities than anything else.

  10. - Mr. Ethics - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:25 am:

    Are there statistics for teen deaths as to how many did not have a valid license? If the age is raised there will probably be a rise in unlicensed drivers on the roads. More laws probably will not decrease teen road deaths. Let’s be careful that we are not just passing laws so more teenagers can be arrested and have them then become uninsurable.

  11. - annoyed all the time - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:33 am:

    I said this last week and I really believe that their drivers education should have to continue throughout their time in high school - even if it’s an extra seminar or soemthing per month - also, teachers, parents take the articles the news and share and talk with your teens! 100 MPH!!!!!!! These accidents are killing the kids in the kids in the car and are on the way to killing more people on the streets. License at 16 and continued education until they graduate and that the continued drivers education portion is coupled into their ability to graduate and vice versa and contingent on them keeping their licenses. That incentive will maybe even keep the kids in school longer with less drop out where they have more riding on their diploma! I know sounds lke legislating everything but you have to admit too many kids are just lacking and guidance at home or at school! Look at it as if you are helping guide them to making better decisions not legislating them.

  12. - Robbie - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:35 am:

    I think it would be worthless. As mentioned above it would not help the learning curve, only shift it back 2 years. As I stated last week and RBD says above, you can’t legislate the stupidity out of teenagers. I am all for working to tweak the driving requirements such as more behind the wheel time outside of drivers ed.

    Getting a job is certainly a big reason to drive at 16, but I hope you guys aren’t forgetting about us downstaters that don’t have public transportation or convenience stores everywhere. A majority of 16-18 year olds drive themselves to school in my area. Certainly busing would be an alternative, but not all students are eligible.

  13. - Robbie - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:39 am:

    AATT suggests continued education and I am not against that, but if that is what helps people become better drivers why do we never again take a driving test until we get old and senile? At 16 I knew more about the rules of driving than 99% of the drivers out there. But driving seems to revolve almost exclusively on experience. My grandfather never took a drivers test in his life and he does just fine. There are good and bad drivers or all ages, genders, and races. Unfortunately teenagers are predisposed to being dumb.

  14. - Wumpus - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:46 am:

    Only if they force mandatory skills/reflex tests after 70/75. But the oldesters vote, so that is a no go.

  15. - Ali Bin Haddin - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:48 am:

    If this happens, think of the loss of revenue for insurance companies and body shops. I have insured three teen age male drivers and the cost could have paid for plenty of college tuition.

  16. - pickles!! - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:53 am:

    Not sure if raising the driving age would do any good. More education would help, but teens need to be more responsible for their actions, parents need to be more aware of their kids driving habits as well, if parents allow them to drive, and neither can be legislated.

    Raising the age to 18 may help in some cases, but i think the answer lies in parents and schools giving kids more education on the topic of safe driving, and parents ultimatly deciding wheter their kids are responsible enough to drive.

  17. - rachel - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:53 am:

    I would hate to send my kids off to college w/o having had some driving experiences at home.

  18. - Johnny USA - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 11:22 am:

    >motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers.

    Is this a big deal?

    What were you expecting to be the leading cause of death for teenager? Heart attacks? Breast cancer? Stokes?

    You can push the number down, but I’ll bet you will be hard pressed to legislate anything that will make automobile crashes anything but #1 with respect to teenage death.

  19. - leigh - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 11:38 am:

    I am all for passenger restrictions and curfews, but at some point in time you are going to be a first time driver. Let 16 year olds drive without their buddies in the car and make them park the car earlier in the night. I have two teen drivers with a 3rd coming up. We have plenty of house rules and we make them drive often with us in the car. Keys are not like cell phones, you don’t just hand keys to a kid and hope they will follow the rules, you make sure they do. It is called parental responsibility. (Not government)

  20. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 11:41 am:

    I agree with wumpus. What about the elderly drivers? They cause many accidents as well, and I don’t see a push to remove them from the road after they turn a certain age. How many elderly drivers cause accidents but the cause or the culprit is never discovered? I can tell you that in Southern Illinois there is a problem with elderly drivers on two-line state and U.S. highways. This is an attempt to tie kids down and what can teenagers do about it? Nothing.

  21. - Belle - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 12:16 pm:

    Yes. I’ve been to 2 funerals for kids under the age of 18 who died in car wrecks. Both were passengers in cars driven by another teenager who decided to do something stupid to impress their friends. They impressed them all right. Although their lives aren’t ended they are certainly over in other ways, 2 more kids who are struggling to live with the damage they did.

  22. - i d - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 12:28 pm:

    It is the parents’ responsibility and all the new laws will not change that. I also think that I would prefer to have 16 year old under my rules and control with a license rather than an 18 year old going off to join the big world with no parental control.

  23. - Way Northsider - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 12:31 pm:

    No - at 18 parents have no control over these young people. I favor much stricter controls than we now have but continuing to let them drive while the parents can really influence the young driver and have the law to back up their restrictions.

  24. - BIG R.PH. - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 1:19 pm:

    Sounds like another excuse to leave the High Tax, High Minimum Wage, Blue Blue State of Illinois.

    Do you really want to haul your 16-17 year old around to band/basketball/volleyball/track/soccer/dance etc. for another 2 years??

  25. - Belle - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 2:54 pm:

    Big R.Ph - I’d rather they be there to inconvenience me. YES, definately.

  26. - Trooper4Life - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 3:17 pm:

    You got it right Belle! Ask a parent who has lost a child if they would have minded being “inconvenienced” for two extra years.

  27. - cermak_rd - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 4:05 pm:

    I spent a lot of my youth (including my teen years) in central IL where there is no mass transit. I rode my bike and walked a lot. It didn’t kill me.

  28. - Jaded - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 5:22 pm:

    It is nice to know that car accidents are the leading cause of teanage death, but also important to know would be rather that percentage is increasing, decreasing or holding steady.

    Think about it for a minute, and it makes perfect sense that car accidents are the leading cause. It is the most dangerous thing an otherwise healthy group of people do that might endanger their lives. Cancer kills TOO many kids, but not as many as a percentage of the population as it does adults. They are not dying of old age, heart disease, or other medical afflictions. Even if they smoke 3 packs a day, that likely won’t kill them for many years to come, so really the only thing they are doing to endanger their lives on a daily basis (unless they serve in the armed forces) is drive.

    One sure fired way to cut down on the number of teanage car accident deaths would be to move the age to 18 because kids will have two less years to endanger themselves and others. Simple math will tell you that the number dying in car accidents has to decrease.

    But how does a 17 year old who is a high school graduate get to his/her job. We don’t all live in areas where they can hop on a bus, a train, or a cap. Now they have to wait until they are 18 to get a job. Besides, 18 year olds are more mature, but that doesn’t make them better drivers. At least a 16 year old has to drive for two years under the thumb of a parent (assuming they have one that cares) who SHOULD be on their ass all the time about driving. You know, we could plastic bubble everyone through legislation if we want, but sometimes, unfortunately, we just have to let them go and pray for the best.

    I think more training, more parental involvement, and more restrictions are fine, but I say leave the age at 16.

  29. - Huh? - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 6:37 pm:

    The CDC says that traffic fatalities is a public health issue. Over the past few years, the average number of deaths due to traffic accidents is nearly 45,000 people each year.

    If this were a disease, such as cancer, people would be donating all kinds of money to find a “cure” for traffic fatalities. But it is not a disease.

    Look around on your morning commute to work. How make people are driving distracted? Reading the newspaper, talking on the cell phone, putting on make up, shaving, driving under the influence, etc. How many people are tailgating, lane hopping, driving too fast? What are you doing on your morning commute?

    The role models that our kids have is us. We are showing them that it is alright to speed, talk on the cell phone, drive distracted etc. By our actions, when we are behind the wheel, we are showing our children what we don’t want them to do. But they get it in their heads that because mom or dad does it, that means I can too. It isn’t just just teen drivers who are getting killed on the highways.

    If we want to reduce the number of teen fatalities, we have to be good role models for our kids. Drive the speed limit, don’t tail gate, don’t drive distracted. Keep both hands on the wheel.

    Want to talk about a tragedy read this story from the Tribune:

    Man struck, killed on I-55

    By Carmen Greco Jr.
    Special to the Tribune
    Published January 29, 2007, 6:06 PM CST

    A Joliet man died over the weekend after he got out of his disabled car on southbound Interstate Highway 55 and was struck by an oncoming sport-utility vehicle, state police said Monday.

    Darrell Kassis, 21, was pronounced dead at 6:35 a.m. Saturday. He was struck at about 4:30 a.m. near the Interstate Highway 355 exit, said Illinois State Police Sgt. John Creedon.

    Creedon said Kassis left his 1999 Buick Crown Victoria, which was on the middle shoulder of the interstate after one of his tires blew out, to talk to another driver who had stopped to help. He was hit by a 1999 Cadillac Escalade. Another car then hit Kassis’ car.

    Witnesses said the driver of the Escalade tried to swerve to avoid Kassis, Creedon said. The accident was under investigation and no tickets had been issued as of Monday, he said.

  30. - Huh? - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 6:43 pm:

    I forgot to make the full disclosure:
    I am an ex-IDOT engineer who spent too many hours reading crash reports to figure out if the roadway was a contributory cause to fatal crashes. Nearly 100% of the time the roadway had nothing to do with the cause of a crash.

    Here is a thought for the day:
    Engineers can design fool proof roads. They just can’t design a damn fool proof road.

    P.S. There is so much talk about role models these day. Be a good role model for your children when you drive.

  31. - Anon - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 7:03 pm:

    Changing the license age from 16 to 18 just changes the accident age from 16 to 18. When kids are 16, they are still somewhat under parental control. I don’t think it would be an advantage to be sending them off as legal adults to college, to jobs, to war - as first time drivers. They are then beyond the legal consent age and beyond (somewhat) parental control. They need to learn these skills while they are still under parental rules.

  32. - The Conservative - Monday, Jan 29, 07 @ 10:29 pm:

    Limit Cell phone usage while driving.

  33. - yinn - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 7:41 am:

    The minimum driving age in most countries in Europe is 18, in most UK countries 17 and no big deal.

    What leads to most accidents is inattentiveness and that includes the huge problem of sleepiness. We need to put more emphasis on the high cost of driving without adequate sleep and driving during times of the day when we’re most vulnerable to sleepiness.

  34. - Freezeup - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 8:35 am:

    I was 17 when I needed to drive the 170 miles to Western Illinois University and drive home every weekend to work on the family farm. We were 11 miles from town when I was in high school. Thankfully my neighbors had 16 year old and older boys in sports so I could get a ride to school to go to practice and play high school sports. I don’t know if with current rules the neighbor and his brother and I could all ride in the same car now. My point is that too many people forget that not everybody in this state lives within walking distance of thier school. My parents had full time jobs AND farmed. It was not possible for them to haul me to every sports practice and activity. I was very lucky to have a chance to ride with neighbor kids. Furthermore, are inexperienced drivers at age 18 safer than inexperienced drivers at age 16? I’m sorry, but my point of view and frame of reference is different than the well meaning Chicagoans that run my state.

  35. - Freezeup - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 8:50 am:

    Yinn- I think there is no comparison at all between the U.S. and Europe. Population densities are higher. There is mass transit. People live in towns. Don’t forget that most of this state is rural. Want to know a time when people fall asleep driving? It is on the interstate after eating lunch on days with bright sunshine. How do you prevent that one? Furthermore, I have some firsthand experience with what causes crashes. Yes, sleepy drivers cause crashes but speed too great for roadway conditions, following too closely and alcohol impaired drivers cause most crashes. Young, unexperienced drivers are in my experience a very small portion of all crashes. There are always going to be unpreventable deaths, but if people 1) wear seat belts, 2) don’t drink excessively and drive 3) Slow down to the speed limit or close to the limit most deaths wouldn’t happen.

  36. - Judy, Judy, Judy - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:36 pm:

    I currently have a 15 year old who has a permit to drive. My husband and I have him drive in various situations and road/weather conditions. When trying a new road (say a more congested area) we have him drive during the less busy times of the day. As we live in the country and do not have a way for him to get to school except by bus - he currently is limited from participating in school activities that begin before school because he doesn’t have a way to get there. I think that young people will do and try things that those who have matured won’t and generally those things are more dangerous - only life experience changes your perspective. We can’t legislate our way to a perfect world and I’m tired of everyone trying to do that. By living on a 2 lane country road with hills my son has seen the many crazy things adults do when passing on those hills. He’s seen the accidents and some fatal right in front of our home - he’s aware of it. We’ve found that kids who live in town and don’t realize what can happen are the ones who drive crazy fast in the country. But, back to those adults who pass on a hill to get around a farm implement or other car - they aren’t 16, they should know better, yet I see them do this every day. Keep the age at 16, they need 50 hours driving with parents before they can get their license, and are allowed one other teenager in the car for the 1st 6 months after their license. We can’t legislate safety, we can only teach it and there are some who will never learn.

  37. - Sara - Tuesday, Feb 13, 07 @ 11:26 am:

    I am 17 years old and had my license for a year. I have had no tickets and been in no wrecks. but now that i look back i realized when i first started driving on my own i really wasnt ready although i thought i was. I dont think we should bump the age limit from 16 to 18, instead i think we should have more behind the wheel hours with an instructor and more hours of just practice driving with our parents. this would help alot more.

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