U.S. Lawmakers Weigh Putting Brakes on State Age Limits for Teen Drivers
Will the Feds take over driving regulations for teens getting their 1st license?
A Maryland lawmaker says yes.
Getting their first driver's license is a seminal moment in the lives of most teenagers. But the federal government -- not the states -- could soon be telling kids when they can get behind the wheel.
Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens in the country. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said he believes thousands of lives will be saved by creating a uniform national system of youth driving laws, called The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act or STANDUP.
The proposed bill calls for the government to set nationwide standards for licensing teen drivers. Under the proposed federal guidelines, age 16 is the earliest a learner's permit would be issued, and an unrestricted license couldn't be issued until age 18.
Currently, each state sets its own process for teens to get their license. Fourteen-year-olds in North and South Dakota, for example, can drive with an adult for the first six months of driving with a learner's permit. After those six months they're able to get a full license, meaning they don't need an adult in the car. Four other states allow teens to drive without an adult before they turn 16, and 43 states allow it at 16.
New Jersey, which has some of the strictest driving policies, doesn't allow young drivers to hit the road on their own until they turn 17.