But It’s Not Fair! Teen Driving Laws and Their Importance

So you have finally gotten that license you have been salivating over for the past 16 years. You studied your state specific handbook, took the drivers test, and now you’re free to hit the open road, right?  Wrong! Before you go joy riding around town there are a few things you need to know.  First off, you’re not a fully fledged licensed driver.  Not by a long shot.  There are still plenty of hoops you need to jump through in order to gain the trust of motorists everywhere, and there are laws scattered throughout the country to make sure you get the proper preparations. Welcome to the world of graduated licensing.
Image source: bcmom on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcmom/
Image source: bcmom on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcmom/
Now, this isn’t an attempt to stifle your freedom.  Graduated licensing is meant to keep the rate of teen driving deaths low. After all, car accidents are the No. 1 cause of teen deaths around the country, and inexperience is a leading factor in most traffic collisions.   Graduated drivers licensing introduces teens to the world of driving in a low-risk way.  The basic idea of a graduated license is to give amateur drivers an initial on-road driving experience that protects them, because they are still learning the ways of the road.  The hope is that they become more mature and develop their driving skills throughout this graduated licensing period. Graduated licensing laws aren’t universal, but differ from state to state.  Some states require that seat belts be worn by everyone in a vehicle with a teen behind the wheel, while other punishments involve license suspension or delays in license advancement. Yes, every state has its own variation of  the graduated license, but these laws are saving teenager’s lives.  Seven of these graduated licensing laws have been proven to keep teens safe.  A minimum age of 16 for a learner’s permit, and a six-month holding period with the permit starts the driver’s learning process off right.
  • 30-50 hours of supervised driving increases the education of the young driver.
  • Night-time limits beginning at 8 p.m. cut the crash rates at 20% compared to no restrictions, and the restrictions beginning after midnight cut crash rates by 12%.
  • Passenger restrictions have resulted in a 21% reduction of the fatal crash rates of 15-17 year-olds.
  • Cellphone limitations have become a more recent requirement of the graduated license, and the minimum age is 18 for an unrestricted license.
While state legislation can help guarantee the safety of teen drivers, the real responsibility lies with your parents. The first thing you should do is hand your teen the Parent Teen Driving Agreement.  The Allstate Foundation created this agreement to make “managing the keys” easier between parents and teen drivers. More than 40% of parents don’t know that auto crashes are the leading killer of teens.  Three-quarters of that 40% mistakenly believe that risk-taking and distractions are the leading cause of teen crashes when in actuality it’s the driver’s inexperience.  Parents need to be educated in the dangers of teen driving. Programs like Drive It Home are making it their mission to spread teen driving awareness across the country. So don’t go huffing and puffing against the graduated licensing program.  These laws have helped save the lives of teens all around the country.  Instead of being upset about your limitations while driving, why not use this time to take some safe driving courses?  Realize that when you’re behind the wheel you’re controlling 4,000 lbs of metal moving at speeds up to 55 mph. Remember that driving is a privilege and not a right, and stay safe out there!   Image source: State Farm on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/statefarm/
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  1. Pingback: May is National Youth Traffic Safety Awareness Month

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