It’s not an anomaly. It’s becoming increasingly well-documented that more and more teenagers are waiting longer to get their driver’s licenses. There are many reasons, from general driving anxiety to lack of access to driver education, the proliferation of ride-sharing applications, and more. What’s alarming is the impact the decision to delay driver education may have on new drivers and community safety.
We’ve written about the particular dangers new drivers face transitioning from supervised to independent driving, how the nature of the developing teenage brain affects driving safety and the efficacy of graduated licensing programs. When taken together, a clear trend emerges. Driver education effectively lowers the rates of dangerous driving outcomes for new drivers. Still, anyone who waits to get a license and thus misses their opportunity to participate in a graduated licensing program puts themself at an increased risk of being involved in a potentially fatal collision.
This trend, in part, may be a component of the skyrocketing rates of fatal collisions for teen drivers. According to the NHTSA, nearly 12% of fatal crashes in California involved teenage drivers in 2020, despite only representing about 5% of the driving population. Despite a significant reduction in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these numbers reflect a shocking 14% increase in teen fatalities from 2019. Something needs to change.
Thankfully, a new bill before the California State Legislature aims to do something about it. Currently, the California provisional licensing program stipulates that drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 must hold an instruction permit for at least six months before applying for a provisional license. SB 473, sponsored by State Senator Benjamin Allen, seeks to increase this age range to require all drivers older than 16 but younger than 21 to drive with an instruction permit for no less than six months before applying for a provisional license.
The passage of this bill would mean that these drivers will have to participate in the same 6 hours of in-car training with a licensed instructor, 50 hours of supervised driving, and face the same license restrictions as their younger counterparts.
Here at DriverZ, we believe this bill has a real chance to improve the safety of our roads, and we’re encouraging all California driving schools to support this initiative. Not only do you stand to see an improvement in your bottom line, but you’ll be better able to fulfill the core mission of the entire Safe Driving Industry, saving lives by making safer drivers.
We hope that you feel as strongly about the positive impact SB 473 will have in California. If you do, the best way to make a difference is to make your voice heard. Since it has been passed by the California State Senate, the next step for this bill lies in it’s passage in the California House of Representatives.
You can use this convenient link to find your representatives contact information. We hope you can find a little time to contact your them and let them know that you as a concerned citizen and driving school owner/operator are in favor of SB 473. Together we can make sure this critical bill passes and helps make our streets and communities safer for everyone.