Hundreds of lives could be saved in both Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, over the next five years if the legislature passed more phased-in driving privileges for teens. Across the nation, and in the Maryland and Virginia area, motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. In fact, per each mile driven, drivers ages 16-19 are four times more likely to be involved in an automobile accident.
Experts have noted that graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs for teens reduce the death and accident tolls significantly. In fact, they have identified several components that constitute a strong GDL. Amazingly, only two states, New York and Delaware have programs with all seven.
The seven components are as follows:
1. A minimum age of 16 for a learner's permit (Maryland now has);
2. Six months of supervised driving before unsupervised driving;
3. A minimum of 30 hours supervised during learner's stage (Maryland now has a supervised hour requirement);
4. A minimum age of 16 ½ for intermediate licensing (Maryland now has);
5. Intermediate night-driving restriction beginning at 10p.m. (Maryland now has a night driving privilege);
6. No more than one non-family member passenger for intermediate license holders (Maryland now has);
7. A minimum age of 17 for a full license.
The last restriction could place undue hardship on many working families in Maryland and Virginia who rely on their teenagers to help with car pool. As a result, while it saves lives, it seems unlikely to become law in our area.