More Nighttime Restrictions for Teen Drivers. Why? Part 2 Newsletter Readers Respond: NMA E-Newsletter #399

Last week’s newsletter on the new Center for Disease Control guidelines to states with regards to nighttime driving for teen drivers brought in some great comments for discussion.  We thought we would share a few thoughts covering both sides of the issue. To read last week’s newsletter, More Nighttime Restrictions for Teen Drivers. Why? Part 1:  Newsletter #398, click here.

From Walter in Indiana:

In sports or any other activity where reflexive motor skills are important, there is a very significant advantage in developing skills at a younger age.  I have seen the evidence in sports that when the brain is trained to execute motor skills at a younger age, the attainable skill level is much higher.

I see the evidence of very low driving skills in most drivers every day and inhibiting young drivers from getting experience at earlier ages is only going to create more unskilled drivers on the road at all ages.  Young drivers are taught to be afraid of everything – this promotes panic and causes freezing behind the wheel when anything unusual happens.

I suggest the exact opposite approach:  There is a huge difference between fear and respect.  You cannot handle a situation well if you fear it – only if you respect and understand it.  Driver’s education should be teaching teens at a young age on a track to handle cars – not just parallel parking, but handling slides and spins on a skid pad, exercising emergency maneuvers and making quick decisions.  I would also suggest creating ice-covered training areas for handling vehicles in those conditions (yes, that would be more expensive in Southern states).  That would produce drivers with drastically higher skill levels, with quicker, more beneficial reactions and those skills could follow them the rest of their lives especially if they were programmed into their neurological systems when practiced at a young age.

Imagine roads filled with well-trained, skilled drivers – what a difference that would be…  I definitely believe death tolls would fall significantly if that training were implemented.

From Hank in Pennsylvania:

Sorry, on this issue I can’t agree, though there are certainly reasonable and unreasonable approaches, as you pointed out.

“When we were young,” as you said, driving was a privilege and a responsibility.  Now too many are lacking on accepting the responsibility side.  It is a societal thing, a change toward blanket entitlement has occurred.

Second, as you also said, there is less driver education.  People just pass a written test on basic road signs and show they can steer, stop at a stop sign and park.  There is no teaching of courtesy or exposure to what-ifs, etc. to prepare young drivers for what they will encounter in real life unless their parents make the effort, which is variable, and are knowledgeable themselves, which is also variable.

There are many more distractions – cell phones and the like.

There is also plenty of research showing that control over impulsive behavior often does not occur till the 20’s.  Not all, but many 16 and 17 year-olds operating dangerous machinery need to be protected from their physiologic shortcomings for a year or two.  Essentially when one gets his/her license these days (s)he is still likely to be an early beta version of the driver they will eventually become.

Furthermore, streets (motorized vehicles, bikes, pedestrians) are much more crowded making maturity, focus on driving and a level head that much more important.

In urban / suburban areas driving is more demanding than it used to be.  At the same time preparation falls pathetically short for many kids.  If their parents have to be chauffeurs for another year so be it if it will help keep their kids and those their kids could injure alive and healthy.  For a fair number of kids waiting a year will be a totally needless burden but nobody ever said that the law was a deft surgical instrument. 

From Mark in Washington State:

Did you ever consider that making driving a hassle is an explicit goal? I have noted several articles in mainstream media celebrating that the percentage of young people who have not learned to drive is higher than in the past. Given that many in this same media favor reliance on public transportation and consider the private auto to be an environmental disaster, should we be surprised?

From Spike in Michigan:

As with their highly-politicized anti-gun crusade, one has to question CDC “mission creep” into areas that have absolutely nothing to do with medical issues.  Clearly, actual diseases are still with us, and the CDC should refocus their resources on THAT.

Isn’t it odd that despite the considerable reduction in teen driving brought about by all these restrictions, insurance for them remains be as high as it ever was?

From Richard in Texas:

I remember being pull over by police in 1961 in MA, when I was 18, to see if I was 18. Then they called for back-up….wouldn’t say why.

Then they searched my car!

No probable cause….nothing found.

Tied me up for an hour such that my parents, who expected me home from work (Howard Johnson’s), called the police looking for me.

They called the State Police, who didn’t know that I was being held up by the local police (Ashland, MA).

They called hospitals too, to see if I’d been in an accident.

This was way before cell phones! (-:

When I got home they were freaked out….it was 1:30am by then…..

They couldn’t believe that I was late BECAUSE of the police so they called them to verify it.

The whole event should have never happened!

But, this and other such events are why I’m a member of the NMA!!!

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