Opinion

Saving lives is worth the hardship of more driving restrictions for young adults

To the editor: The Times seems skeptical of the goal of AB 63, a bill to extend California’s Graduated Driver License Law to 20-year-olds. Much research has noted success for this law for teens ages 16 and 17, reducing the highway death rate for this age group. (“Driving while young adult,” editorial, Feb. 11)

The Times acknowledges this research cited by many respected traffic safety support groups. However, you imply that this added licensing requirement for the older teens may add hardship to the daily-life demands for young adults. 

What needs to be stated is that the death rate for 18- to 20-year-olds has skyrocketed during the last decade by 40% or more since California’s Graduated Driver License Law was enacted. In other words, while 16- and 17-year-olds are safer, the older group is facing a severe crisis.

It is the belief of many safety advocates that a good deal of the cause here is that many members of the older age group wait to apply for a license until they’re 18 and thus avoid any of the driving restrictions that have brought improved safety to younger teens. Saving more young adult lives is the goal of AB 63.

Why not try to save more young adults, even if they must adjust their daily lives to gain valuable road experience more safely?

Jerry Gaines, San Pedro

The writer is past president of the California Assn. for Safety Education.

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To the editor: It’s unclear whether a decrease in traffic deaths can be linked to 16- and 17-year-old drivers not being allowed to carry passengers younger than 20 or just across-the-board falling fatality rates.

What is clear is the increased number of cars on the road on school days. Instead of Jack giving Jill and Jose a ride home from school, now all three drive cars. 

Once again, the know-it-alls in Sacramento can’t prove a benefit from their latest nanny-state bill, but we motorists know to avoid driving by any high school at dismissal time.

Bob Munson, Newbury Park

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