Florida bill to make teens wait an extra year to drive dies

| 6/13/2006

A bill has died that sought to increase the age to get a learner’s permit to drive in Florida from 15 to 16 years.

Sponsored by Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, the bill remained in the House Transportation Committee when the session ended, effectively killing it for the year.

The measure – HB975 – also would have delayed by one year the required age to qualify for a driver’s license. Teens now can qualify for the privilege at 16.

Slosberg said his pursuit of the new driving rules stemmed from a statistic that thousands of Florida 16-year-olds are killed or injured annually in vehicle crashes. He said the extra year would reduce traffic deaths because children 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 Sun-Sentinel reported.

“It’s common sense and I think maybe it’s time,” Slosberg told the newspaper.

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.