--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---
February 17, 1997
By SHAUNA FAUCHON Tattoo Staff Writer Many age-related driving rules are a hardship on families and should be dropped or at least modified. The recent talk of a night curfew; the rule requiring parents to drive with teens for six months after they get their license; and the idea that the age to receive a license should be jacked up to 18 or 21 years old are all imposing and unnecessary. They would not only inconvenience teenagers but also many parents. What happens to the single parent (or even married for that matter) who works out of the home and has to make special trips all over to pick up three kids? That parent surely would rather have her 16-year-old pick up the younger siblings from school and sports rather than for her to leave work to do it. And how probable is it that that same busy parent would have extra time to set aside to drive with her teenager during that initial six months? With no road time set aside, the teen cannot become a better driver and the parent is greatly inconvenienced and may even feel that she is denying her teen the privilege of driving. I know many families like this who depend on teens to chauffeur younger siblings, to shop, and to even pick the parents up from work. Why should laws inconvenience families ≠ arenít they supposed to help families? The night curfew would limit any freedom a teenager has gained. What happens on a Friday night when a bunch of teenagers go to a movie or a party that ends late? Are they supposed to call their parents and say, ďMom, can you pick me up, oh, and bring Dad, too, so he can drive my car home since Iím not allowed to drive right now?Ē Once again, what about busy single parents ≠ how are they going to pick up their teen, watch the other kids, and bring home a second car? The ďcurfewĒ idea isnít well thought out and would add an extra burden to an already busy family. The suggestion to raise the driving age is ludicrous. While not all teenagers are mentally mature at 16, neither are many 18-year-olds or even 21- year-olds. Letís face it, teens mature at different stages and itís not like you can hand them a maturity test to see if they have the ability to be a safe driver. I know many troublemakers who are the best drivers in the world and a few straight-A students who just canít drive as well as the others. This is similar to elderly drivers ≠ some have tip-top reflexes at 92 and can drive perfectly while others at 69 canít see over the steering wheel and are all over the road! Clearly, no generalization can be made when it comes to age. What about 16-year-old drivers and alcohol? While nearly all teens have tried alcohol at one time or another, itís not always alcohol but usually driving inexperience that leads to accidents. Why are 16-year-olds singled out as reckless drivers? Sure, we do get into a lot of bang-ups as a whole, but itís not because we are 16 or because weíre all little druggy-punks who have an IV of beer attached to us. Itís because many of us, as new drivers, simply do not have enough experience behind the wheel. Age doesnít matter ≠ if youíre not a careful, experienced driver, youíre going to make some mistakes that lead to accidents. To make the roadways safer for everyone, more than six hours of road time in driversí education is needed, followed by about a month of parental supervision while driving. The six hours that is now the standard isnít nearly enough time to gain crucial experience behind the wheel. In my case, I spent so much time learning turns that I never got out on the highway. Highway driving instruction would have been an additional class or two and cost extra ≠ something my family couldnít afford. Iíve had my license for 8 months now and Iíve never been out on the highway because my parents fear Iíll make one of those ďnew-driverĒ mistakes that will get me into an accident. Sometimes I think if only there were more road- time classes, teens would get more of a feel for the car and may have a better chance of avoiding collisions. If more teen-related accidents were avoided, there would be no need for burdensome laws such as the ď6-monthĒ law, the night curfew, or proposed age changes.