Friday, August 1, 2008

New Teen Driving Laws

New driving laws have been adopted here in Connecticut and came into effect yesterday. New restrictions have been added to teen drivers, and parents have even been ordered to attend a two hour teen safety driving course. Of course, it has strong public support. People are rallied behind the idea of safeguarding our teens. Proof that acceptance of governmental control is always the way you spin it. I think that we have become a regulation happy society. We seem to think that should make laws for everything. These driving laws, although based in a reasonable ideal, are just more laws that are illogical and unenforceable (except in the worst case scenario of an accident). Are police officer’s now supposed to guess how old a driver is? Hmmm – 16? 18? Have they had their license for a year or 6 months (you cannot have friends in the vehicle until you’ve had your license for a year)?

I don’t know about most of you, but my time behind the wheel was often with my parents as they had to run my younger brother into town for a baseball game. Thank goodness I’m not getting my license now because you can’t have even you siblings in the car for the first 6 months. However if you are being raised by a single parent there is an exception (and a police officer would know this how? Does that mean a divorce decree has to be issued? How about if you are just separated? What about a married couple where one of the spouses travels?). What about families where the children are spaced well apart? You are teaching a 16 year old but also have a 4 year old. Are you supposed to leave the younger one home alone? I think this law instead of increasing driver’s strengths may weaken them, because the teens will never be allowed to drive. They will only meet the most minimal hours on the road.

Also, because the license becomes less restrictive as time passes, many teens will not have free will use of their cars until they are at college or out on their own. I don’t know about you but I would much rather have my children test the boundaries while under my roof than when they out on their own – ever heard of college binging and the freshman 15 - - how about the dropout rate for freshman in college. . . When children are out on their own for the first time, they tend to go a little crazy. Now we want them to do it with a car.

The law also reduces the curfew to 11:00 pm. I thought the government only enforced curfews under martial law? Doesn’t this seem to be a petty crime to waste police officers time with? Curfew is a parent’s jurisdiction. If you want to make a driving law, make one that gives parent’s the right to revoke their children’s driving rights either temporarily or permanently (until 18). It is only at this level that individual circumstance can be taken into account. If the concern is that kids are only out to party or cause mischief after 11:00 pm then there are laws against drunk driving, underage drinking, and criminal mischief on the books. Why not use the laws that already exist instead of making more?

Ironically, this law only applies to 16 and 17 year olds. If you wait until 18, none of these restrictions apply. It is my guess that we will see a reduction in 16 and 17 year old car related fatalities and accidents and a rise in 18 year olds. Unfortunately accidents are not necessarily a product of young drivers, but instead of inexperience. By making all these rules and regulations, we are just changing the timeline for that experience.

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