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The Key to Safe Roads? Should the Driving Age Be Raised?


First the drinking age gets a hard look, and now this? An influential auto safety group is calling for states to raise the legal driving age to 18. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety president says the move would be for everyone's own good — car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers. He's presenting the plan at the Governors Highway Safety Association conference today — if states adopt the measure, the ol' 16th birthday might not be as sweet anymore.

Not surprisingly, kids and lots of parents want brakes put on the idea — the loss of freedom for both parties is huge. One mom says, "Do we really want our kids dependent upon parents for virtually everything until they go to college, can vote and serve their country?"

Here are the numbers: more than 5,000 teens die in crashes every year. Those crashes, per mile driven by a 16-year-old is almost 10 times the rate for drivers their parent's ages. Should the US follow Europe (and New Jersey) on this one? Most other industrialized countries in have a driving age of 17 or 18. Is safety (and potentially saving gas or fewer drivers on the road) worth delaying that big key hand-off another year or two?

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