(Copyright 2000. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

April 10, 2000

Give teen driving laws a green light

--- Opinion ---

By Jessica Norton

The Tattoo

Thousands of drivers are killed in motor vehicle accidents
each year with teenage drivers making up a majority of those
numbers that are involved.

State lawmakers looking at these numbers want to place
restrictions on new drivers under 18 to try to bring down the
fatalities. Some proposed bills call for drug tests before a
new license is issued, limiting the number of passengers that
an under 18 driver could transport, and increasing the amount
of hours required before a teenager can take their driving test.

Now I know what I am about to say is going to get up and
coming drivers in a frazzle but I think these restrictions are a
good idea. I am 18 years old and just got my license back in
September after going through Drivers Education and driving
with my parents, and honestly even after going through the
required hours I was totally unprepared for the first time that
I ever went out onto the road by myself. The truth is I was
still learning. The same goes for every driver who gets their
license. The first time that you drive without another person
in the passengers seat making sure you don't kill yourself
makes it an entirely different game. Unfortunately it is
nothing that the 30 hours of drivers ed can prepare you for;
only time can. 

I think that 16 is much too young for someone to get their
license. There is no way an average 16-year-old is prepared
to take on the responsibility of driving a motor vehicle that
has the potential to kill another human being. A typical 16-
year-old just can't grasp that, especially with a car full of four
of their friends all trying to talk to them and asking to put in
a CD or roll down the window. Now I am not saying that
every 18-year-old is able to operate a car perfectly -- I just
think that an 18-year-old is more mature to deal with the
responsibility then a typical 16 or 17-year-old.

I also agree with the increasing the amount of hours that
someone has to have under their belt before getting the keys.
I know from personal experience that the time spent in the
driver's ed car is not nearly enough to prepare anyone to get
behind the wheel themselves let alone add other obstacles of
rain, ice, crazy drivers, and freeways to the equation. Plain
and simple, just because you turn 16 and put in your time in
the crazy car with the dunce cap on top does not mean that
you should be driving you and four of your friends to
Hartford for a basketball game. 
Now I'm not saying that when I turned 16 I wasn't chomping
at the bit to get down to the DMV because I was. There were
many nights that my parents and I fought over why I had to
wait until I was 17 to take drivers ed but looking back now
with a few months under my belt I'm glad they made me
wait. I can honestly say that I wasn't ready to take the leap
into the driver's seat and I'm still learning new things every
day but I know that I am much more prepared then I was
two years ago to accept the privilege that I now have.