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Status Report, Vol. 35, No. 1 | January 15, 2000 Subscribe

Young and old drivers favor curbs on their own driving privileges

Initiatives aimed at reducing car crashes among the youngest and oldest drivers are favored by most Americans, including younger and older people whose own driving might be curtailed.

A national telephone survey conducted recently by the Insurance Research Council finds that new safety measures like graduated licensing for beginning drivers (see Status Report special issue: graduated licensing, Dec. 4, 1999) or annual road and/or vision tests for people 70 and older are popular among Americans of all ages. Respondents favored these and other restrictions "even when their own privileges may be affected," according to Elizabeth Sprinkel, senior vice president of the Insurance Research Council.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said graduated licensing is an excellent or good idea, up 15 points from a 1995 survey. In addition, 87 percent of all respondents and 82 percent of those 18-24 years old favor enacting zero tolerance laws, which penalize teenage drivers found to have ingested any alcohol.

Seventy-five percent of respondents support provisional licenses for drivers younger than 21, and two out of three favor night driving restrictions for people younger than 18. All the responses represent increases in support since 1995.

When asked about provisions affecting drivers 70 and older, 76 percent said they favor annual road tests. Annual vision tests were endorsed by 89 percent overall and 77 percent of people 65 and older. Other provisions favored by a majority — including a majority of older respondents — include training programs for older drivers, mandatory annual physicals, more left-turn signals at intersections, and bigger signs that are easier to read.

The survey consisted of telephone interviews with 1,000 men and women 18 years and older during April and May 1999. Results are contained in the Insurance Research Council's Public Attitude Monitor.

Older drivers
Percent of people 65+ who favor:

Annual vision test at age 70+ 77
Bigger, easier to read signs 73
Annual road test at age 70+ 59

Younger drivers
Percent of 18-24 year-olds who favor:

Zero BAC tolerance 82
Graduated licensing
Licensing at 18 years

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