Should legal driving age be bumped to 18?

By Ashley Johnson - email

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Statistics show that one out of four teens has a vehicle accident, and car crashes are the number one killer of teenagers. These statistics have sparked a controversy with people on both sides of the issue.

"I did it when I was 16. My kids did it when they were 16. They were responsible," says Len Zera, a visitor to the Grand Strand.

What so many have considered freedom is now coming under fire. "I really think kids are ready to drive at the age of 16," says parent, Laurie Knechtel.

Both Zera and Knechtel believe age has nothing to do with how well you drive.  "I really don't think raising the age is the issue, I really think it's education," suggests Knechtel.

She says teens need to know about the dangers of using technology on the road.  "When I was that age, I lost some friends to drinking and driving so that was the same type of ramifications truly until you lose somebody close to you," says Knechtel.

She also stresses the importance of talking through issues about the road with teens.  She admits, "They don't see the ramifications of texting and driving until of course it's too late."

Sean Lange says he doesn't want to take that risk. "Many of these kids don't know what they're doing on the road, they are just driving like maniacs." He takes the side of many who say the legal age should be 18.

"I really think it would decrease the accidents." Lange believes he knows the reasons why some parents don't support the age increase. "Parents don't want to be driving their kids around for the rest of their lives."

But Lange does understand the other side of the issue. "I think a lot of parents would be happy because they'd know my kids are at home. They're not out driving or drinking."

AAA hopes to keep teens safe on the road by creating awareness of the dangers facing young drivers. They also want to educate parents about how to make sure their child is road ready.

AAA suggests a graduated licensing system. They say 16-year-olds could drive for the first year with a legal guardian. Then at 17, they could drive with someone over the age of 25 without any peers and only during the day. At 18, a license could be issued.

Stay with WMBF News as we continue to follow this story.

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