Parents, Drivers Want Tougher Driving Laws for Teens, Poll Says

April 13, 2010

Washington drivers want stricter penalties for teen drivers who violate Washington’s intermediate license law, a recent poll by PEMCO Insurance revealed.

The poll, taken by the state’s largest insurance company at the end of 2009, shows that 51 percent of licensed drivers believe that intermediate-license violations should be strengthened from a secondary to a primary offense. As a primary offense, the law would allow police to issue tickets to teens solely for violating the intermediate license law’s passenger or curfew restrictions.

The 2001 law makes it illegal for newly licensed teen drivers to drive with passengers under 20 years old who are not immediate family members, and for those teens to drive unaccompanied between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Intermediate drivers must abide by these restrictions during the first six months of having a driver license.

“Sixteen and 17-year-olds in particular are inexperienced drivers, and any sort of distraction, whether it’s from a cell phone or a friend in the front seat, increases the risk of a crash,” said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesman. “The intermediate license law helps teens gain skill and experience in a safe setting.”

PEMCO also asked drivers if intermediate license laws are enforced with the teen drivers in their own households. Of those with teenage drivers, 84 percent of parents said they enforce the state’s laws with their teens. Additionally, three out of four parents (76 percent) enforce other driving-privilege rules aside from what the law requires.

Washington’s intermediate license law also requires parents to accompany their teens for 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, before teens can get their driver license.

“Parents who are involved will know if their teens are ready for independent driving,” Osterberg said. “If some parents think driving restrictions need to be extended, they should consider setting their own ‘house rules.'”

To view a summary of the rpoll esults, visit www.pemco.com/poll.

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