The moment your child obtains a driver’s license may be the next natural step towards adulthood, but it can be a dangerous step. As motor vehicle accidents are still one of the leading causes of teenage fatalities, personal finance website Wallethub decided to perform a study to determine which states have the safest driving environments for teens.
After considering the safety conditions, economic status, and driving laws each state has, they found Missouri to be the fourth worst state for teenage drivers. In comparison to the other states, the safety and driving law rankings were respectively 44th and 49th. So, what makes Missouri a dangerous place to drive for teens?
Lenient license requirements
Wallethub notes that Missouri has less than half of the six optimal graduated driver-licensing (GDL) program laws. These laws define the requirements teen drivers must accomplish to obtain their permits and licenses while also setting some boundaries in each stage. The laws set in Missouri are not as restricting as the other states.
For example, one of the optimal GDL provisions is that the driver must be at least 16 to obtain a learner’s permit. In Missouri, the eligible age is 15. A 15 year-old with a permit might appear dangerous to some given the ongoing debates on if drivers should be older than 16 to obtain a license.
The state only requires 40 hours of supervised driving before getting a license, as opposed to the optimal 50. This gives them less behind the wheel experience.
Missouri does have a nighttime restriction for teenagers. However, the curfew is that they cannot drive from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. In other states, teens cannot drive past 9 p.m. Nighttime is more dangerous due to less visibility and a higher chance for drunk or drowsy driving accidents.
A lack of safe driving laws
One of the main reasons Missouri ranks so low for state driving laws is because it lacks enforcements to combat serious issues. While Missouri requires drivers to wear a seat belt, it is not a primary law. The police will not stop drivers if they are not wearing a seat belt.
This means less encouragement is given for teens to put on something that could potentially save their life during a crash. This law as well as Missouri’s lack of a full texting while driving ban has been frequently debated by state officials. Some believe not having them in place puts more teenagers at risk.
It is important to sit down with your child to discuss safe driving behavior, whether the state requires it or not. Your child and other teenagers lack experience and need to be shown what it means to be a responsible driver.