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Auto insurance quotes and teen driving

Every year, more of our children die on the road. It's a national disgrace that, in 2009, more than 3,400 teens died. That's 10% of all those dying on the roads. Even though right wing politicians disapprove anything the federal government does to limit freedoms, it makes sense to impose new limits on the right to drive. Indeed, the more we do as a country to keep our children safe the better. Except, when a bill was introduced in Congress last year, the GOP used every possible procedural device to slow it down. As a result, it failed to make progress and so was wiped from the slate at the end of the year. Now the Democrats are reintroducing the STANDUP Act (Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act). It's always pleasing when titles make good acronyms and this is no exception.

The aim is simple: to keep younger inexperienced drivers off the road. This would be achieved by setting a national standard for graduated drivers' licensing. Federal highway funds would be tied to encourage states to enact the federal standard within three years. The bill creates a ladder to climb for a full license. It begins with a learner's permit no earlier than 16, passes through an intermediate stage and ends with a full license. It also creates a number of specific criminal offenses, including driving unsupervised at night without a full license, using a cell phone while driving, and a limit on the number of young passengers. The intention is formally to introduce the rule that no one can have a full license under the age of 18.

Needless to say, the GOP believe this unreasonably interferes with the sovereign right of states. Further, they argue driving in an essentially rural state is not the same as in New York which is full of traffic. Only state legislatures know the detail of local conditions and can make appropriate laws. This explains why teens in North Dakota can start to drive on their 14th birthday, whereas New Jersey prevents a teen from moving to the intermediate stage until his or her 17th birthday. This is not to say any state is derelict in its laws. The Insurance Institute for HIghway Safety rates 37 states as having good laws, but there's a general failure to deal with distractions while driving. Only 30 states currently ban texting. Worse, only 28 states ban cell phone use by novice drivers. Most driver safety experts think there should be a general ban on texting by drivers of all ages.

Whatever your opinion on hand-held technology and cell phone use, the death of teen drivers is potentially preventable both by limiting unsupervised driving and by insisting on every driver going through an approved course of instruction before being allowed a full license. Of course, nothing can prevent teens determined to drive no matter what the law says. But if we can reduce the number of accidents, this will reduce the auto insurance rates for both teen and young adult drivers. Doing nothing should not be an option. Indeed, it may be better not to use auto insurance quotes as a reason. Simply pitching this to parents as a way of keeping more of their children alive should be enough to pass the bill into law.

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