More Night Time Restrictions for Teen Drivers. Why? : NMA E-Newsletter #398

Earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control came out with new guidelines for state legislatures to consider including:  Set the driving curfew for 16 to 17 year olds closer to 9:00 PM.  The reason the CDC gives has to do with a report that nationwide, 31-percent of the 16 and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes from 2009-14 were involved in night time crashes.  Only 11-percent of all trips made by this age group occur at night

Forty-nine states (all but Vermont) already have certain night time restrictions.  Twenty-three states have curfews starting at midnight or later.  Utah for example has a curfew from midnight to 5:59 AM.  Utah parents say they feel that the current restrictions work but 9:00 PM—totally unrealistic.  Reasons: sports, work and just hanging out.  Parents feel that if their child is old enough to drive and are old enough to drive a family car then they should be old enough to drive at night after they receive their driver’s license. Parents trust their teen children. Why can’t the CDC and other safety activists?

Not only do teen drivers have to endure a graduated driver’s license process that can be confusing and difficult for both teen and parent such as outlined in this report from New York, teens are faced with higher insurance rates.  When parents add a teen driver to their policy, they will pay an average of 80 percent more.  In New Hampshire, teen drivers cost a staggering 125 percent more.

Back in the day, getting a driver’s license was a rite of passage.  This great event in a young person’s life was something to look forward to because driving a car was the most important thing in a teen’s life–now not so much.  Because now, even though teens can start driving earlier with supervision, they cannot get a full license until they are 18 in many states.  Driving is no longer fun for many teenagers and the cost of getting one’s license has shot up since schools no longer offer driver’s ed as a course.  No fun + high cost = why bother? 

Putting more night time restrictions on teens so that their moms and dads will have to pick up their child at his/her fast food restaurant job or pick him/her up after the football homecoming dance is really not a great situation for either teen or parent.

If teens put off driving until they don’t have to go through the graduated driver’s license program, they will have lost years of important experience and they probably will not be better drivers at all.  They will see driving more of a chore than something to look forward to doing. This may be one reason why ridesharing and driverless cars are such exciting ideas for Millennials and Generation Z’s.    

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