PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer in America. Just over the weekend, three local teenagers died in traffic collisions.
Car crashes take about 2,500 teenage lives every year — now families and state agencies are spearheading an effort to change that.
Turning 16 can be a pivotal moment in any teenagers life. Going to driving school and getting a license gives teens a whole new sense of freedom. While it’s an exciting experience for some, it can also be a terrifying one for parents.
Currently, Oregon law requires teenagers to wait six months before they can drive with a passenger under the age of 20 who isn’t an immediate family member. That could change to a year-long wait.
“I run cross country, you couldn’t give someone a ride to practice, we do that a lot,” ODEC student driver Gavin Macpherson told KOIN 6 News. “You go out to lunch, you could give your friends a ride, so I think it’ll make it a lot harder.”
But parents have a different take on the issue.
“I think it would handicap the kids,” Guin Hillman, grandparent of a teen driver said. “They might live through it when otherwise maybe they would not.”
The second change being considered by ODOT is an increase in the driving age to 17 or 18.
While some teens and parents told KOIN 6 News they don’t love that idea, they wouldn’t be against a nighttime driving curfew — which is the third idea being discussed.
“I think night driving is hard,” Hillman said. “They can’t see things as well as they do during the day, so I would be glad to have fewer night hours.”
At this point, the changes in teen driving regulations are in the discussion phase, but ODOT has passed along the ideas to state lawmakers.
KOIN 6 News also spoke with AAA, and they agree with the idea — they’ve even conducted studies that show the risk of a teen dying in a car crash increases with the number of young passengers present in the vehicle.