Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

My plea to Kansas: increase your driving age!

Posted by lapearce on June 21, 2009

Most states in the United States require teens to be sixteen before they can get their license. In some states, the age is lower, typically in agricultural states where children are needed to help on the farm. Now, let me just preface this right now: I live in Orange County California, not exactly farm country. I will let you know that I am ignorant to farm life and the activities required of teens in these communities.

Disclaimer aside, Kansas is one of those states with a ridiculously low age for getting a permit and license. Even though studies show the longer a teen waits to get his/her license, the safer they are on the road, Kansas still allows teens to get their permits, and even restricted licenses, at 14! The farm permit, as it is called, requires proof that the teen works on a farm that is 20 acres or larger, and that they go through the required driver’s training. Under the restricted license they can only drive: “to and from school (not school activities); to, from or in connection with any farm related work, or at any time when accompanied by a licensed adult driver 18 years of age or older.” 15-year-olds can also get a restricted driver for going to and from school or work with similar restrictions.

On Thursday six-year-old, Eduardo Moreno, was killed after he was thrown from a vehicle driven by a 15-year-old, Antonio Moreno, who I assume had one of these restricted driver’s license. The teen lost control of the vehicle and it flipped. Even though both boys were wearing their seatbelts Eduardo was ejected. He later died at the hospital, where Antonio is still recovering.

While crashes like this can happen at any age, they are just more likely when the teen is younger. Kansas is having new laws taking effect next January that will greatly improve the driving laws in Kansas. For example, right now 16-year-olds can get a license without ANY formal education or in time driving, next year they will need to take a written and driving test, or simply show proof that they completed driver’s ed. However even with these lukewarm, but needed, improvements, 14-year-olds will still be able to get farm permits in Kansas, and 15-year-olds will be able to get restricted licenses.

14 is simply too young. I’m sure there are plenty of good arguments from the farm community to allow children to receive licenses this young, but it is just too young.

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