Earlier this month, the National Safety Council and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation outlined additional guidelines to the already implemented Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program that has already been implemented in many states. This newest set of guidelines seem more like punishment than an actual gateway to adulthood. For example, all new drivers 21 and under instead of the current 18 and under would now be part of the GDL program. Other overly restrictive recommendations include:
· Mandatory in-vehicle technology to track practice hours.
· A full-year ban on carrying passengers and driving at night.
· Decals to aid identification and on-going driver’s education classes.
· Parents would be required to spend at least 50 hours supervising their teen drivers.
Of course, obtaining a driver’s license is optional but if a person does not have a license, finding employment in the future may be difficult. Employers feel that having a driver’s license is a milestone in one’s life that carries commitment and responsibility. Driving may also be part of the job requirement.
Currently, a driver’s license is one of the best forms of Identification for banking, entering public buildings and flying. Without a driver’s license, it may also be difficult to vote and to rent a place to live.
Of course, all drivers need to be trained on the rules of the road and on practical driving but why does the path to a driver’s license have to be so draconian? The issues with the newest GDL guidelines are numerous.
· Why would any 18 to 21 year old want to learn how to drive if it involves their parents? If the new driver is away at college, in the military or already working, how would this be possible? Many young people are already adults at this age and have adult responsibilities. Shouldn’t they be treated as adults?
· Beginning drivers of all ages should be allowed to take a driver’s education course and work with the driving instructor instead of a parent who may not be the best of drivers or who does not drive at all. This is the driver’s education system in Germany and German drivers are some of the best in the world.
· What family would want a device inside any of their cars that track practice hours? How would this information be captured and who would see this information? What if the device failed or was lost, would the new driver have to start all over again?
· Many young people in this age group need to drive at night to go to and from their job. If parents trust their teens and young adult children to be safe drivers, they should be allowed to drive at night in the first year of driving.
· Allowing or not allowing passengers in the car should be a parent’s decision not some quasi-government safety council. Parents should be allowed to trust their teens with this responsibility instead of tracking their every move. After a child is 18, parents have little control over this since the child is now considered an adult who can make their own adult decisions.
· Car identification decals is a great way for creeps to target inexperienced drivers, especially young women. Also, the decal would probably be placed on a family car even though the teen driving may not be driving the car as much as the parents.
· Of course, parents should be involved in teaching their teens to drive but why does it have to be 50 hours minimum? Would the parents also have to use a tracking device just like their children and who reads and assesses the parental information?
The push to make this happen has already begun in California. This past week, Assemblyman Jim Frazier introduced AB 63 which if passed would extend the applicable age range for the state’s GDL program to 16 to under 21 years of age.
Learning to drive is an important life skill. Despite all the propaganda to the contrary, young people still want to own and drive a car even with the transportation options now open to all of us.
Adult drivers do not like roadblocks and checkpoints. Why should we expect our teen and young adult drivers to put up with the same?