America's youth are our Nation's most valuable resource. And it is not an overstatement to say they are our future. Tragically, that future is being destroyed and deterred on the Nation's highways. The statistics involving young drivers are stunning. Although 16to 20-year-old drivers account for only 7.4 percent of all licensed drivers, they are involved in over 20 percent of single-vehicle accidents. In 1991, drivers under the age of 21 were involved in the highest number of accidents per capita than any other age group. Too many of these accidents involve alcohol. The High Risk Drivers Act encourages States to take a tough zero-tolerance stance toward teen drinking and driving. Legislation should establish a safety grant program to be administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, whereby States could qualify for grant moneys by enacting various laws designed to reduce the crash involvement of younger drivers. These include laws establishing a provisional licensing system for younger drivers, reducing the blood alcohol content impairment standard for minors to .02, imposing fines for selling alcohol to a minor, and requiring all passengers to wear seatbelts. Although many gains have been made in improving traffic safety, the costs of motor vehicle fatalities continue to rise, with NHTSA estimating the toll at $137.5 billion for 1990. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses today, on these important issues. A NHTSA study found that although only 7.4 percent of all licensed drivers are between the ages of 16 and 20, these drivers are involved in 15.4 percent of fatal crashes, and over 20 percent of all single-vehicle crashes. During 1991, in Missouri, drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 were involved in 29.5 percent of all traffic accidents, despite the fact that they constitute only 7.7 percent of licensed drivers. Reckless driving and inexperience contribute to this problem, but alcohol is the most important issue. Despite the national minimum drinking age law of 21, 33 percent of young drivers involved in fatal crashes in 1991 were intoxicated, and 41.3 percent had positive blood alcohol content. No high school graduation season passes without reports of car crashes involving recent graduates and alcohol. Unfortunately, these accidents, as you well know, occur year round, and alcohol consumption is frequently a factor. Most recently, we were reminded of this situation when a young Virginia teenager was killed when the vehicle in which she was riding crashed and hit a tree in McLean. After attending a party, her group left, taking with it a keg of beer that another teenager had purchased in the District of Columbia. The reports we have indicate that alcohol was a factor in this accident, which killed this 17-year-old young girl just on March 26 of this year. This accident is not unique, nor isolated, and there have been several other fatal crashes which tragically demonstrate the easy access that teenagers have to alcohol and the lethal consequences of teenager alcohol use when combined with driving. Sammy Beanard has researched and written about many driving related issues. To see more of his writing, visit his article about License Plate Lookup.