Citing a statistic that thousands of Florida 16-year-olds
are killed or injured in vehicle crashes annually, a state lawmaker is calling
for increasing the state’s driving age from 16 to 17.
Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, says the extra year would
reduce traffic deaths because teens need it for their brains to mature.
Nationwide, 16-year-old drivers have the highest crash risk.
It is double the rate of 18- to 19-year-old drivers, the South Florida
“It’s common sense and I think maybe it’s time,” Slosberg
told the newspaper.
The bill would change the earliest age to get a learner’s
permit from 15 to 16 years. That would delay by one year the required age to
qualify for a driver’s license.
Florida law already limits when a 16- or 17-year-old can be
behind the wheel.
Sixteen-year-olds cannot be on the road between 11 p.m. and
6 a.m., unless accompanied by someone 21 years or older or driving to work. And
17-year-olds are prohibited from driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Slosberg also wants to limit the number of teens who can
ride along with a teen driver.
A recent AAA study found that crashes caused by 15- to
17-year-old drivers between 1995 and 2004 killed nearly 31,000 people
nationwide, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Teen drivers accounted for 11,100
of those casualties while 9,900 were the passengers of young drivers.
According to a study by the National Safety Council, having
just one passenger can boost the crash risk by 50 percent for 16- and
17-year-olds. With three or more passengers, the crash risk is four times
greater than driving solo.
HB975 is in the House Transportation Committee.