Fifteen-year-old Samuel J. Dunnuck, his 12-year-old brother Gabriel and the boys’ 48-year-old father — Thomas Dunnuck — were killed in a crash on I-94 in Alexandria on Wednesday morning when their car went out of control.
Samuel was driving. He had a learner’s permit. Now a legislator in North Dakota is pointing to the accident as a reason to raise the driving age in that state.
In North Dakota, kids can get a permit at 14 and test for their license after six months. The legislator’s proposal would increase the time to one year. The bill, of course, would not have kept a younger driver off the road on Wednesday morning.
Minnesota, under a new law that took effect just a few months ago, is more restrictive on young drivers. For the first six months, they can’t drive after midnight, and only one person under 20 is permitted in the car unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. In this state, you can get a learner’s permit at 15.
None of those laws would’ve kept a young driver off the road on Wednesday, either.
A report by an auto safety group last summer urged states to raise the age for getting a driver’s license to 17 or 18. MPR’s Midmorning explored the subject in September. From 2005 to 2007, 16- and 17-year-old drivers were involved in 116 fatal crashes, resulting in 133 deaths, the Star Tribune reported at the time.
Some public safety officials have urged the Legislature to raise the age, but they say they’re not hearing much of an outcry to do it. Floor debate on any driver’s restrictions usually underscores a salient point: Given the activities of a 16 or 17 year old, it’s a pain in the neck for mom and dad to haul them around.
Is it time to reconsider the driving age in Minnesota?