Deadly crash sparks teen driving debate
Since Saturdayâ??s fatal crash in Centerville Township, many people have been expressing concern about the driving age in Michigan.
According to the Michigan Graduated License System, teens can legally get their license at the age of 16 under a level two intermediate driverâ??s license. The level two driverâ??s license has some restrictions, but some parents and highway safety leaders feel the age should still be raised.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.
â??Graduated licensing systems have been enacted in all 50 states now, to try and deal with that problem. By phasing in driverâ??s license over timeâ?¦and it has worked,â?? said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
But Rader says itâ??s still a problem because nearly 3,000 teens were killed in car crashes in 2012. He says the crash risk is highest for 16 and 17-year-old drivers.
â??Itâ??s a combination of immaturity and inexperience,â?? said Rader. â??Theyâ??re much more likely to be involved in crashes involving speeding, taking risks, not wearing their safety belts and driving with other teens.â??
Many states allow teens to get their licenses at age 16, but others like New Jersey donâ??t hand the keys over until age 17.
Rader says it would make sense to raise the driving age in Michigan to 17 because it would save lives.
â??You eliminate the crash deaths involving 16-year-old drivers because theyâ??re no longer driving and that is a big benefit because they have the highest crash risk,â?? said Rader.
â??I think that a lot of teens really do not have the mentality, the responsibility that it takes to be behind the wheel,â?? said Cheri Fenton Lewis, a parent of a teen girl.
Cheri says her daughter is already 17 and wonâ??t be getting her license until October, at the earliest.
She says sheâ??s spent a lot of time driving with her, and is still judging whether or not sheâ??ll be ready to get the keys.
â??A lot of the responsibility belongs to the parent to judge if the child is mature enough and really to hold the responsibility for putting them behind the wheel,â?? said Cheri.
Cheri says she too supports raising the driving age to 17 or 18.
Leelanau County Sheriff, Mike Borkovich says the 16-year-old driver involved in Saturdayâ??s fatal crash that killed 31-year-old Brian Nachazel of Cedar, was violating the rules of his level two graduated driverâ??s license.
Borkovich said that he would not support raising the driving age. He says that he trusts the Michigan State Police and Secretary of State who set the age and structure for driving in Michigan. He says he would however like to see teens be more responsible out on the roads and wishes that they'd realize that driving is a privilege, and not a right.