N.D. needs graduated licenses for teensNorth Dakota slipped out of the top 10 best states for children’s well-being for the first time since 2002, according to the 2010 Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The state can do better.
North Dakota slipped out of the top 10 best states for children’s well-being for the first time since 2002, according to the 2010 Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The state can do better.
Areas of the report show that North Dakota ranks close to the top of the nation in low birth rate and work force participation. While those numbers are well and good, poor performance in other categories has dropped the state to 12th, compared to seventh in 2009.
One area where the state needs to improve is teen deaths by accident, suicide or homicide. North Dakota ranks 44th in the nation with 67 per 100,000.
North Dakota can improve in this category because the high numbers of deaths are preventable. One way to reduce teen deaths is to change teen driving laws.
Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., recently introduced the Students Taking Responsibility for Road Safety Act.
The STARS Act would give states at least $200,000 each to launch statewide initiatives that would bolster teen driving safety through peer-to-peer programs, among others programs picked by each state.
The STARS Act has the potential to improve teen driving safety in North Dakota. But the Legislature continues senseless bickering over something that would save even more lives — graduated driver’s licensing.
Other close-by rural states, like Montana and South Dakota, have implemented restrictions on teens learning how to drive as part of their graduated licensing. North Dakota is the only state in the nation without graduated driver’s licensing.
In both states teens have nighttime driving restrictions, and in Montana there are also passenger restrictions, which North Dakota completely lacks.
The programs’ results show dropping teen deaths by accident, suicide or homicide to 62 per 100,000 for each state in 2007, the latest reportable year.
North Dakota has the funds to start a similar program — roughly $300,000 — and the state is doing nothing.
Graduating driver’s licensing in North Dakota should be passed in North Dakota.
(Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper’s editorial board)