Teenage drivers need limits for their own safety

The grim statistics tell the story. Teen drivers involved in fatal accidents likely have other teens in the car with them.

A study released this week, which analyzed traffic data over a 10-year period, shows that 15- to 17-year-old drivers are almost eight times more likely to get into a fatal accident while driving with two or more teen passengers. Drivers 19 and under are three times more likely to die in accidents. In fact, traffic deaths are the leading cause of death for that age group.

We know many teens are anxious to drive as soon as possible. We know letting them is convenient because parents no longer have to be the ones to drive their children everywhere, and some teens in this age group may need a car to get to work or other activities.

But the bottom line is this: Teenagers, even the responsible ones, don’t always make the best decisions. They bend to peer pressure. They are easily distracted. And above all else, they are simply inexperienced drivers.

That said, we think a newly proposed Ohio law that would place tougher limits on teens driving with teens has merit. House Bill 204 would limit a teen driver’s passengers to family members and other licensed drivers until the teen turns 21. Drivers ages 16 and 17 would not be allowed to drive after 10 p.m. unless they need to drive back and forth to school or work.

Initial reaction from some is that this law seems too extreme. But it’s clear many parents and teen drivers aren’t limiting the number of teens driving with teen drivers and the consequences are often deadly. To that we say, slow down.

Sixteen and seventeen-year-old kids don’t need to have the same freedoms as adults. Teens don’t have to drive to school, or ride to school with friends, they can take the bus.

And for parents who may be forced to drive their kids to and from activities more often, don’t think of it as a burden, enjoy it. The time you have with your teen is fleeting. If your teen is in an accident, your time could be shorter still.