Driving age may go up following report that youth get into more fatal accidents

Driving age may go up fo

lamedim student drivers 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
lamedim student drivers 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 make up the largest group involved in serious and fatal car accidents across the country, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Road Safety Authority. The report, which was released to coincide with National Road Safety Day, also states that drivers within the 17-24 age group were 1.5 times more likely to be involved in such accidents, and that the accidents often occurred when the young drivers were alone. Based on the report's findings, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) announced on Tuesday that he was considering raising the legal driving age from 17 to 19 or 20, as other methods of curbing the high rate of car accidents involving young people did not seem to be effective. "If things like education and enforcement aren't successful, we will weigh raising the driving age," Katz said during a Knesset Economic Affairs Committee meeting that dealt with the report's findings. "Driving is a privilege," Katz added. "And if we have to choose between that privilege and life, then we choose life. This would be a highly unpopular step to take, but we are steadfast in our desire to change the trend of car accidents in the country." The NRSA report also showed that young drivers were more often involved in serious car accidents during the first months after receiving their licenses than were other new drivers. According to the report, young drivers make up the bulk of the country's new drivers. Young drivers are also more likely to be involved in accidents that result from driving at high speeds, driving at night, or driving while overly tired or under the influence of alcohol, the report continued. Among young drivers, the report added, men were more often involved in accidents than were their female counterparts, as they were less inclined to obey traffic laws and took greater risks on the road. Lack of experience and alcohol abuse were both listed as directly linked to the high accident rate among young drivers, and educational methods of curbing both of those problems were also listed. One recommendation mentioned in the report was a Graduated Driver's License (GDL) program for young drivers, which would provide the new driver with experience and skills gradually over time, before giving them free reign to head out on the road. The program requires drivers to pass through three licensing stages: a learner's permit, then a restricted, provisional or probationary license, followed by a full driver's license. Additionally, the report recommends a method called "Training on Hazard Perception," which the report says has become widely used in many countries around the world. The program teaches young drivers how to identify potential hazards before they are faced with them, how to evaluate potential dangers in a given situation, and how to respond to such situations quickly and correctly. Meanwhile, a man in his 70s was killed on Tuesday when he was run over by a tractor he had been driving in the village of Abu Senan. The man apparently fell off the tractor after it hit a pole. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.