Editorial,Susan Frissell, Publisher

What was once very much a ‘rite of passage,’ obtaining a driver’s license was first on the list of most of my friends when we turned 16. Perhaps not so in other cultures, but very much so in American culture.  What was once so exciting, has become a nerve-wracking event for teens and parents alike. Motor-vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death among drivers aged 16-19. This age group is also the group with the highest risk of crashes.

Hand in hand with this fact are the financial implications. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 15- to 19-year-olds made up only 6.5% percent of the population. Yet, they were responsible for 8.4% percent of all costs resulting from motor-vehicle injuries. This percent does not include the costs of auto maintenance, insurance premiums, possible traffic citations and other vehicular incidents, big expenses that can increase over time.

To work on this reality, WalletHub analyzed the teen-driving environment in all 50 states using a collection of 23 key metrics. The data includes ranges from number of teen driver fatalities to average cost of car repairs to presence of impaired-driving laws.

Although teens are responsible for their own driving consequences, much of the emotional and financial burden goes to the parents. In those areas, the study determined, it is up to lawmakers to implement programs and policies to reduce the numbers of accidents, fatalities.  a panel of experts were asked to share their thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. What tips do you have for parents of teen drivers?
  2. What is the biggest risk that teen drivers face?
  3. What tips do you have for minimizing the costs (insurance, etc.) associated with having a teen driver in the household?
  4. Should we increase the age at which an individual is eligible for a license to 18?
  5. What should policymakers do to increase the safety of teen drivers?

Among some of the findings of the WalletHub study were states with the most teen DUI’s: Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and South. The states with the fewest DUI’s included Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. And those with the highest number of teen fatalities included South Dakota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama and Wyoming.

Those states providing the best teen driver’s graduated driver-licensing program laws include Delaware and New York. Those states with the worst programs were Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

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