Requiring additional driver training might be more effective in producing better teen drivers than simply raising the driving age.
An effort to raise the age at which Kansans can receive an unrestricted driver's license is back in a Kansas Senate committee, and prospects for its passage seem dim.
Even if the measure is passed it will make only minor changes in the licensing laws. The American Automobile Assn. originally backed a bill that would have raised the age for unrestricted licenses from 16 to 17, banned drivers with restricted licenses from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. and required parents to verify teens had completed at least 50 hours of accompanied driving before receiving an unrestricted license.
The bill now has been whittled down, and AAA has removed its support. The number of hours required for an unrestricted license has been reduced, and the age for receiving such a license would remain at 16.
There was considerable rural opposition to the additional restrictions, and making an arbitrary change in the age limit probably doesn't address the problem of making sure teenagers are ready to handle a drivers license.
Maybe it would be more to the point to require drivers education courses for all new teenage drivers. And maybe those courses should be expanded to include issues such as the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some school districts in the state already require drivers education. It wouldn't seem out of line to require Kansas students to take a semester of drivers ed, probably in ninth grade, when they are preparing to get restricted drivers licenses.
Schools require health courses and other classes involving life skills. Learning to drive safely is a life-saving skill. Making it a required part of the school curriculum might be worth a try.