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MAP Practice Test, 3-22-2007

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Read the following article from the Boston Globe. When you have finished reading, answer the questions at the bottom of the page.

A higher age vowed for teen drivers

Lawmakers plan bill with 17 1/2 minimum

(Correction: Because of an editing error, some editions of yesterday's Page One story on attempts to raise the age for teenage drivers incorrectly stated that Amanda Nadeau, 16, died March 17 after an alcohol-related crash. The crash was not linked to alcohol.)

State legislative leaders, saying they were shaken by a spate of highway accidents, are vowing to dramatically toughen state driving laws for teenagers by putting a bill on the governor's desk that would raise the age at which a teenager could receive a license to 17 1/2, among the toughest standards for young drivers in the nation.

The bill, perennially debated and redrafted at the State House, appears to have finally garnered the support needed to make it law, the leaders say, following an outcry from parents, police, and legislators, who say the current minimum age, 16 1/2, allows too many inexperienced and immature drivers onto state roadways.

The statistics are alarming, legislators say. According to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, three out of every 10 Massachusetts drivers age 16 get into serious accidents. Yesterday, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi said lawmakers are preparing to approve the legislation, which is also backed by leading Senate lawmakers, by July 31.

''I believe the focus on this particular issue right now will generate a lot of support in the Legislature," DiMasi said. ''I would say by the end of this session we will have a bill on the governor's desk."

Even as they finished drafting the details of the bill last week, several legislators received telephone calls from Julia Rodriguez, who buried her 16-year-old daughter, Amanda Nadeau, last Wednesday.

A junior at Reading Memorial High School, Nadeau was killed when the BMW in which she was riding hit a tree on Route 128 in Wakefield on March 17. The driver, 16-year-old Scott Connolly of Reading, was also killed in the crash.

''There's no way some of these kids should be driving," Rodriguez said. ''They turn 16 and think they have the right to drive. But we can tell them no."

Critics of raising the age limit have said it would be more effective for the state to improve enforcement of existing laws.

''Raising the driving age is not something we support," said Arthur Kinsman, director of government affairs for AAA of Southern New England. ''I have never seen any studies that indicate raising the age to 17 1/2 is really going to accomplish anything other than delay onset of the necessary experience."

Lawmakers, not to mention parents, say that if the bill passes, they anticipate complaints from teens, who consider driving at age 16 a rite of passage.

''I don't actually think it's very fair to make us wait until we're older," said Erica Morris, 17, from Sandwich, who does not yet have a license. ''I agree that some of the kids can be a little reckless when they're driving, but I think it's an excuse to just get younger drivers off the road."

Current law allows a teenager to receive a learner's permit at age 16 and a junior operator's license at 16 1/2. Drivers with learner's permits must be accompanied by a driver 21 or older with a full license. Junior operators, those under 18, are subject to enhanced penalties for some vehicle offenses, such as speeding and drinking while driving. The proposal would raise the minimum age requirement by a year, as well as double the duration of learner's permits to one year and raise the minimum age at which a teen could get a learner's permit by six months, to 16 1/2 years old.

The bill would also require teens with learner's permits to log 50 hours of driving under the supervision of a parent or guardian, including 10 hours in the winter and 10 hours at night. The current requirement mandates 12 hours of supervised driving.

''There's a maturity factor that needs to be addressed, and there's an experience factor that needs to be addressed," DiMasi said. ''Especially when a teenager gets on the highway and there's speed involved, the first time they ever go above 55 miles an hour, they're not sure what they're doing behind the wheel."

The bill would also impose harsher punishments if a driver with a junior operator's license is stopped for violating the various restrictions that come with that license, such as driving after midnight or with passengers under age 16 who are unaccompanied by an adult, during the first six months they have the license. Connolly was driving in violation of that rule.

Under the bill, violators would lose their junior operator's license and be forced to take intensive drivers education courses to reobtain it. Under current law, violators face monthlong license suspensions that increase with violations.

''We want to put a short and tight leash on junior operators," said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, a Chicopee Democrat, author of the proposal, and cochairman of the Transportation Committee. ''They'll have additional on-road training and as a result they'll be better prepared for the experience of driving."

The proposed age requirement of 17 1/2 proposed under the bill would be among the toughest in the nation; most states allow teens to obtain a license at age 16.

Senator Steven A. Baddour, a Methuen Democrat and cochairman of the Transportation Committee, said the committee would likely take up the proposal by the middle of this week and send it to the full Legislature by week's end.

''I'm confident it will pass both branches and the governor will want to sign it," he said.

Teenage drivers suffer fatalities at the highest rate of any age group, federal data show. In 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 28.6 per 100,000 Americans age 16 to 20 died in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. ''A lot of this has to do with maturity level of the driver," said Representative Peter J. Koutoujian, a Newton Democrat. ''I remember when I drove at age 17. I drove too fast. I had no idea, no conception of the weapon that I was operating."

Baddour recently met with teenagers who told him driver's education in Massachusetts is inadequate. Under the bill, he said, teens would need to clear a statewide driver's education exam, rather than exams devised by driving schools.

''The kids told me driver's ed is a joke," Baddour said.

Michael Levenson can be reached at, Raja Mishra can be reached at Globe correspondents Nathan A. Hurst and Katherine M. Curley contributed to this report.  

1. What reason best explains why legislators are pushing the bill to increase the driving age?
A. They believe they have enough to support to get it passed.
B. They believe today's young people are wild and they want to punish them.
C. They see statistics showing three out of 10 young drivers are involved in serious accidents and think something has to be done.
D. They've already passed all of their other bills.
2. Under the new law:
A. Teens would receive a learner's permit at age 16.
B. Teens would receive a full license at age 17 1/2.
C. Students could get a learner's permit at age 15.
D. Students would have to learn to drink and drive.
3.  How does AAA of Southern New England feel about the bill?
A. It is against the bill because there is no evidence the bill will work.
B. It is for the bill because the organization will receive more money.
C. It is against the bill because the organization never approves of anything the legislature does.
D. It is for the bill because the bill could save lives.

4. (Essay Question) Analyze the arguments for and against raising the legal driving age in Massachusetts.