Bill Would Lower Driver’s Permit Age To 15 1/2

BOSTON (CBS) – Would more driving time make better drivers?

Some people think so, including a high school history class which has convinced a local state legislator to file a bill that would lower the age to get a permit.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports

Right now under state law, teens can get a permit at age 16. That allows them to drive with parents and guardians. Six months later at 16-and-a-half, they can earn a license.

But State Representative Steven Levy of Marlborough is proposing lowering the permit age to 15-and-a-half.

The idea came from his daughter’s 10th grade history class at Plymouth North High School.

“They’re not looking to change the age, the actually licensing age, but give them six months earlier to get the permit and really give them a year to gain the required experience,” Levy told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

WBZ-TV’s Peg Rusconi reports.

The bill would also increase required driving time during that period from 18 to 30 hours in drivers’ education and 12 to 24 hours on the road at home.

“Their general argument is that it’s not so much your age, it is the experience you have driving that makes you a good driver,” Levy said.

“I think it’s a sound and reasonable request to allow them to get their permit a little earlier and really require that students have more on-road experience. “

WBZ’s Karen Twomey contributed to this report.

More from Karen Twomey
  • Jane

    This could be a good idea and I have nothing against teens getting more experience on the road, etc.
    Unfortunately, most parents will be passing down their bad driving habits regardless of how old the kid is when they start learning to drive. Remember that episode of Family Guy when Peter taught Meg how to drive? I imagine it could go something like that for a lot of kids out there…

  • stephen

    i think this is a really good idea for students to learn the rules odf the road at a ressonable age so they have more time to lprep for their drivers tests to get their license

  • Brad

    Why don’t we go the other way? Learner’s permit from age 16-17?
    Our roads are too congested and there are way too may distractions as it is. Isn’t this age group the most likely to get in a car accident too?

    • stephen

      no im a verry resposible person ii live in Ma for all my life and yeah i agree and disagree there are some teen driversthat need to wait and there are some who are mature enough to take on the responsibility to drive. Might i also add some teens need to beable to drive them selfs places because ! their parents are verry busy people trying to make an honest living and may not have the time to drive their kids to all the places they need to be. jso to saay im alll for lowering the gae limit

    • Shannon

      pushing the age limit up would do no good for the kids. If we pushed it up that high some kids wouldn’t get it until they were practically seniors and it would let down congestion for maybe a year until they made it up to the rightful driving age. This age group is just as likely to get into car accidents as everyone else is it just seems that when there is an accident with younger people involved that they publicize it more. I think it is a wonderful idea and it’s what many other states have already done and it worked out well for them. I believe that the driving age should lower if it moves.

    • Julia

      In all honesty, if you bring the age up, it makes it harder for teenagers to obtain a job. Which, in a lot of peoples opinions, is very beneficial as it teaches kids responsibility and independance. Without being able to get their licence until the end of highschool, a lot more kids will depend on their parents, and therefore have less experience for moving out and living on their own once it comes time for college and moving out.

  • Chris

    Yes,I agree this would be good experience – extra driving would be beneficial to all.Would they also be able to start drivers ed earlier? Other states have this law and it seems to work.

  • deb walz

    age isn’t going to change it.. It’s time spent behind the wheel and at 16 you should have more than 12 hours of driving time, it should be 12 hours a week at least. age isn’t going to change the time if parents don’t let the students drive.

    • Taylor

      they want to lower the age so you CAN get more time behind the wheel, 12 hours is just the required time with an INSTRUCTOR not including with parents or gaurdians etc. not to mention that he wants to change the required driving time to 24 hours…its so they get more experience on the road and cause LESS accidents you ding dong

  • Mark

    Not a good idea. These kids are not responsible enough to drive. Just read the never ending news stories of the sheer irresponsible behavior every day from underage drinking, underage pregnancies, to bullying & vandalism. I got my license at 16 and I know I wasn’t anywhere close to being a responsible person. It sould be raised to 18 and you must complete a 6-8 week course of driver education with a licensed instructor (not a parent). We seem to keep lowering the age for everything and creating. The schools should offer a driver education course from the age of 14 up through senior year classroom only, than the actual driving can take place after graduation with a 6-8 week hands on course. Cost money, you bet, but in the long run it would save money (insurance rates) not to mention lives.

    • Amanda

      i dont understand what teeen pregnancies and bullying has anything to do with driving. you also hear of the stories of which include adults in accidents. the fatalities match up, and age doesnt make a difference. you might not have been a responsible person, but there are alot of kids out their who are very responsible. and yes there are distractions however with more experience kids will b able to know how to deal with these and avoid it.

      • Teresa Shipman

        Re-read his comment. Kids this age seem incapable of controlling impulses; lack skills in good judgement and very often show a lack of respect for people, places, objects. They need to spend more time earning this privilege.

    • Frank

      “Kids this age seem incapable of controlling impulses; lack skills in good judgement and very often show a lack of respect for people, places, objects. They need to spend more time earning this privilege.” Like us adults! Try again. :D

      • Kelsey

        To comment on this i would like to say maybe you would like to read the article over again. This bill was made to ensure that teenagers will have enough experience driving before they get their license, with aslo the weather conditions in New England. Say you get your permit at age 15 in March, experience driving through the Spring and Summer, then in September I am eligable to get my license. How am I suppost to know how to drive by myself in a snow storm on my way to school in say December. With having your permit for a full year you would be able to get used to the things you need to be cautious on the road.

    • kaitlyn

      most kids are responsible by age 15. I think it would be good for kids to be able to have a year before they start driving alone. Age 15 is not too young to be behind the wheel with an adult by your side. as long you pass the test..

    • Erica

      I think that the driving age should be lowered and there should be a larger crack down on the underage drinking and drug use. Driving is a privilege that majority of people experience and in this day and age it is a necessity. However drinking and abusing drugs is not necessary and the police should be more concerned about that than anything else at this time. Making it harder for kids to get their licenses would be a bad thing because driving opens up many doors for people and if kids didn’t have this as a hobby than they would probably stay at home with their parents doing drugs and getting no where in their lives,

  • Elliot Brown

    I am 65 years old now and have lived in Massachusetts since the age of 15 (almost 16). When I was 14 years old, I lived in Louisiana. The law there at that time allowed me to obtain a driver’s license at 14 years of age. It is still probably ’14’ in many ‘farming’ states, as teenagers in families must help harvest crops and must drive tractors across state highways.

    My parents had me go to through a driver education course prior to getting my license. It was wonderful and I remember that the car was a dual-controlled 1953 Ford sedan, column stick-shift. Even after the driver-ed, my mother in particular, had doubts about my driving ability, and it took a few months to prove to her that I was a responsible driver at 14. When the family had to move to Massachusetts in 1960, I drove my mother and two brothers from Louisiana to Massachusetts on route 11 (before Interstate highways), at age 15.

    I had to wait ’til I turned 16 to get my license in MA. Back then the Registery’s pamphlet for learning the rules (laws) for driving was 8-pages. When I went for my license, I surrendered my Louisiana license. They were surprised that I already had 2 years of driving experience.

    I’m happy to say that I have never caused an accident and have never lost my license due to ‘not being responsible’. And I still remember the ‘Fundamental Driving Speed Law’ – ‘The speed should be reasonable and proper at all times with regard to the use of the ways.’

    Just thought you would like to know that 15 years of age is NOT TOO YOUNG!

  • Tammy

    they have many years to drive… 15 years old kids do not have
    the maturity !

    • kait

      actually… we have maturity. not all. but a lot.

    • Kelsey

      I dont know how old you are but if I can remind you, with a permit you have to be driving WITH A PARENT OR DRIVING TEACHER. We are not lowering the license age we are making it so that we have more experince on the road.

  • eddwal50

    this idea is just so mommy and daddy won’t have to drive them everwhere it’s a 2 step issue let them start with learners permit earlier then lower the age for the driving test

  • 1stackmack

    has anyone seen the show top gear on bbc america.funny and entertaining.they did a race between the 3 hosts and a bunch of 8-10 year olds in a ralley type race.[off road in rear wheel drive cars at speed]the kids in this euro country,norway i think.had better car control and all finished better than the hosts.what i’m saying is the more time behind the wheel the better.i personaly had my own off road go cart,and my grandfathers 12 acre gravel pit in i’v been driving since 10.i drove my grandfathers old 1972 autocar 10 wheeler dump truck at 12. so this isn’t a bad idea.

  • 1stackmack

    also,what happend to doing to a mall or cinema parking lot to get practice,even in snow and ice.parents,set up some cones and do a brady bunch type test some cones and an egg don’t cost much.

    • kayy

      thats not even allowed…. why cant we just drive on the road…?

  • emom

    I dont get this,, why ,,,,, why do they need to have their license at 15. whats the purpose… wait a few years, enjoy being a kid ,, whats the hurry… wait till your 16 1/2 to get a permit then later your license,,, HOWEVER I am in favor of upping the time in the class room and on the road… throw in a defensive driving course as well,, STRESS the point about being responsible and not using your cell phone while up to your EAR,, teach them that the radio does not go above a certain volume, that the mirrors are to be used to SEE other cars ,,,,,, not to put on your makeup ladies… oh and no loking at your self GUYS,..,,, seats up right at all times this is not a motorized barca lounger…… OH an no DVD watching while driving… more time behind the wheel and in the class,,,they need to learn the rules of road…. the red sign at the end of the road really says STOP….. I beleive that means do not move until you stop and look BOTH WAYS>> please do not make the same mistakes that so many have … plwase wait till your at least 16 1/2 whats the rush

    • Kelsey

      We are not lowering the license age, it is still left at 16. We are just lowering the permit age to 15 so that we have the experience. Being in control of a car is a big responsiblity so wouldnt that be a good thing to have before you get your license?

  • Sam

    In Euope, people under the age of 18 do not drive. If you have kids, what’s the problem with driving them around until they’re 18? If a parent cannot be bothered with their kids under 18, maybe they shouldn’t have children.

    • kaittt

      thats Europe this is AMERICA. No one said that the [arents cannot be bothered by their children, it would just simply make everyones live easier. and i dont understand if u dont live here, then why do you care?

  • Dale Jr

    Who’s so bored to even throw this one out for discussion? How about 18 instead!

  • Jean

    Why not raise the driving age to 17 and then they can practice for an entire year and will be year maturer.

    • Amanda

      Well because these kids are not talking about age. They have shown research of fatalities in states with the age 14 and shown just the same deaths caused by accidents as a state with age of 17 year olds. they match up. these kids are trying to allow teenagers to become more adapt to driving in a car WITH their parent for an extra 6 months. in the end this decision would make the roads safer. Massachusetts is only 1 of 8 states left with a driving age as high as 16 and there is no increase is accidents or fatalities between them.

  • a world of negativity

    They are not seeking to get their license earlier. They want the age changed for getting their permit to 15 1/2 years old so they will have their permit for a whole year before getting their license at the age of 16 1/2. By doing so gets them more hands on experience while in the presence of a licensed family member. After reading all the comments it makes me wonder just how educated anyone is to even respond. Elliot Brown seemed to make the most sense and the most educated.(complete sentences, punctuation and all) Thanks Elliot!!! Has anyone noticed the ages in the police logs of the driving offenses including DUI’s….hmmmm… mostly all so called adults. I could go on and on…yes, there are 15 year old immature teenagers and there are 40 year old immature so called adults. Just saying…. Thank You!

  • taxedout

    Hasn’t Steven Levy got an idea on jobs, or lowering taxes??? Kids at 16 1/2 are in accidents all the time. I guess we know who Steve listens too instead of his constituents!!!!

    • Leigh

      The children are the future of america and yes we understand that all of our adult figures and roll models are having a hard time right now but we need to be given the experience and help to pick up the pieces of the country that your generation left to us broken.

    • Allison

      Have you ever met Steven Levy…probably not. Well listeni have and he is a wonderful man who agreed to helping his daughter and her classmates get more invloved in the government. This has nothing to do with Steven Levy so leave him out of it!!! All he did was allow such an opportunity for children. This is the most ridiculous thing i have heard. Please meet Steven Levy and then think about what you just said.

      • Aliison

        im sorry This commen is made for taxedout not Leigh.

  • emom

    Ok if they want to have their permit for a year before getting their license,, Then whats the problem with doing that at 16. If having their license at 15 1/2 is really that important and I do understand that there are a FEW mature teens at 15 and younger,,, HOWEVER, that does not justify the need for all to be able to get their permits at 15 or 15 1/2.. I was a mature teen and did many things like an adult at a young age, BUT I still waited to get my permit till I was 17 but did not get my license until I was 18. I was also taught by my dad, taught defensive driving and my first time driving was the blizzard of 78 to the store with my mother.. what a way to learn how to drive in bad new england weather. It worked and today been driving for over 30 years . No accident was mine and I pay attention to the road,and all thats around me. However so many teens as well as adults just dont care. sadly so many teens learn from those same adults ,,, More road time , more class time and more learning the rulles of the road , But still whats the hurry wait a year,,

  • Paul D

    I think it is a great idea and opportunty for new drivers to gain a full year of driving experience in all 4 seasons – winter driving being the most important. Take it from someone who turned 16 in May, got my permit, passed drivers ed, and became licensed in November wihout any experience driving on snow/ice.

  • David

    One thing I see is that 16-17, even 18 year-olds, are treated like kids. Therefore, they act like kids and are not trusted. And they defy adults because they want to be an adult. Full circle. Bring the driving age down to a nice, round 16 and lower the drinking age to 18. They are adults at 18 and not kids anymore. Most people are in college or kicked out of the house by then. Give them what they want. Up the time in the classroom to 20 hrs (2hrs/day for two weeks, Mon. through Fri.), the driving under observation by instructors to 30 hrs, and increase the observation by a parent to 50 hrs.

    Also, have mandatory driving school and for all drivers and have driving tests and mental acuity tests, not eye tests, starting at age 50 every ten years until 70, then every five years if they pass and are in good standing (no moving violations). A brain-dead person can have excellent eye-sight.

    • Julianna

      I completely agree with you! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • anom

      These kids arnt saying to lower the driving age which is what people arnt understanding. They are interested in allowing teenagers to have the opportunity to get more experience before getttting their license

  • Nikki

    I don’t agree with this, my brother was 16 when he got his license and was not experienced enough and was killed in a car accident a few months later.. I think they should get their permits at 16, license at 18, 2 years experience… I know my 3 children will not be getting their license until there 18… I care to deeply about there lives to let them go out get a license without lots of experience first…

    • David

      Currently, if you get your permit at 16 you have to get driver’s ed, which includes classroom time, driving with an instructor, and some parent supervision. From what you’re saying, driving schools didn’t exist when your brother unfortunately died in a car accident. Sorry for your loss.

  • rmsbl4

    Based on this moronic idea of getting more time to learn, why not just hand them their learners permit the day they are born and thus can start practising from the cradle. Some of these law makers need to learn to use their head for MORE than a HAT RACK

  • PW

    Better lower the drinking age to 19 first.

    • Tina

      this action would be idiotic and irresponsible. Drinking is an unneeded action that just harms your body and mind and you’re probably an irresponsible college student whose parents are paying large amounts of money for you to drink your head away.

  • jaygee

    Mr. Levy has far too much time on his hands and too little common sense between the ears. He filed this bill because of what his daughter said was discussed in her 10th grade history class? Is this April Fool’s day or what?

    • Anom

      Since when was this about Mr.Levy? and no sorry its not April fools day, and id like to say that Mr.Levy came to us to explain about the government. The class is who asked for the idea and he volunteered to help out. All this was, was a history project that actually got this far.

    • Shelley

      we are sent to school to learn so that we can affect the world in a positive way. Instead of trying to do something to benefit people are we supposed to sit around and do math equations? Obviously waiting until later in life to change the world hasn’t helped anyone and these kids are just trying something new.

  • Dianne

    No way…15 is too young.

    • Anom

      It is 15 and a half and its the permit age not driving age. this is for kids to get more experience before they get their license

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