Study: Driving age should be increased to 17 - FOX Carolina 21

Study: Driving age should be increased to 17

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Upstate teen driver Betsy Ebatt gets behind the wheel. (June 1, 2012/FOX Carolina) Upstate teen driver Betsy Ebatt gets behind the wheel. (June 1, 2012/FOX Carolina)

There could be potential changes for teen drivers, and they probably won't like them. A new study wants to raise the driver's license age and limit who can ride with them.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says there's a good reason, claiming tougher rules would save lives.

Government statistics say car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, and states with the most restrictions on teens have seen the biggest drop in deaths.

Greenville teen Betsy Ebatt's day behind the wheel with license in hand is drawing close.

"I have two more months," said Ebatt.  

Her mother, Jackie Ebatt, doesn't exactly share in her excitement.

"It's very nerve-wracking," said Jackie Ebatt.

But if you ask Betsy how she feels about waiting one extra year, she'll respond passionately.  

"No thank you, I'm so ready to get it in two more months, I'm not waiting all that time," said Betsy.

But some say that one year might make all the difference when it comes to the sobering teen driving statistics - car accidents amount to one in three of all teen deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

"The data shows most teen drivers think they are very good drivers, they overestimate their ability to drive," said State Farm Insurance Agent Michael Oliver.

Oliver says waiting an extra year may be an inconvenience for families, but says he and State Farm endorse any restrictions that would improve safety.

"The difference between 16 and 18 years old, data says there's a good sense of maturity gained to make better decisions behind the wheel," said Oliver.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also recommends pushing permit ages to 16, a minimum of 65 hours of supervised driving and a ban on carrying teen passengers.

While Betsy disagrees with almost all of these regulations, her mother hasn't quite decided.

"It would be an inconvenience for us, but I do understand my son just had his first wreck this week," Jackie Ebatt said.  

The recommendations are just that - recommendations - unless state lawmakers vote to change the current laws. 

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