It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week.
The NHTSA site has lots of info and PSAs aimed at keeping teen drivers safe. More importantly let’s talk about keeping the rest of us safe from teen drivers.
It was a bad weekend for metro Orlando bicyclists in the path of teen drivers. Yesterday an 18-year-old driver lost control of his car and killed a bicyclist on Avalon Park Blvd. Saturday a 19-year-old driver lost control of his car and killed a bicyclist on Old Cheney Highway.
NHTSA is promoting Graduated Driver Licensing, but it falls a bit short, IMO. Their text says 16-17 year olds are a problem, but from what I’ve read, the teenage brain has some serious developmental issues that can impair rational decision-making until the mid 20s. What’s worse, the same deficiency makes it nearly impossible to reason with them — which makes me wonder about all the PSAs aimed at convincing teens to make rational decisions.
A few states have caught on to the reality that teenagers behind the wheel are a high risk to themselves and others. Some states are implementing more restrictive Graduated Driver’s Licenses (GDL), but we still lag behind the rest of the world in qualifying drivers (of all ages) to operate a machine that can kill.
Australia’s P-plate is the most notable example I founds when I started looking into this topic. The age restrictions vary in each state or territory, but generally, drivers between 18 and 21 are required to display a red [P] tag on the front and back of the vehicle to indicate to authorities that they hold a provisional/probationary license. These drivers have numerous restrictions on the passengers they can carry, the type of vehicles and maximum speed they can drive. Demerit points for violating restrictions result in license suspension. Any speeding infraction results in a license suspension.
Several other countries use P-plates, or some equivalent. In May 2010, the state of New Jersey implemented a P-plate system. Kyleigh’s Law requires any driver under 21 to display a red decal on front and back license plates. There was lots of controversy and the law is still being challenged. In August of this year, it was upheld by the N.J. Supreme Court.
When you push back against entitlement, expect resistance.
Florida has a GDL, but it starts at 15 with a learner’s license, has increased privileges at 16 and 17 with full privileges at 18. Did I mention cyclists were killed this weekend by an 18 year old and a 19 year old?