Teen Driver Safety Week

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?

Maybe if all kids started their driving career like these kids, they’d be better drivers. Maybe they’d even choose to drive human powered vehicles longer, like Andy’s daughter has.

7 replies
  1. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    It is insane to allow children to pilot lethal weapons.

    As in so many other things, this is done right in The Netherlands. Nobody drives a motor vehicle below the age of 18. To get a driver’s licence requires extensive training and testing to ensure that this is done safely. Here is a video. Trust me, the experiences described are typical.


    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Yes, I very much envy the licensing requirements in many Northern European countries. The DMV here is more concerned with proving who you are than proving you are competent to operate a motor vehicle.

      But then driving a car isn’t a necessity in countries with comprehensive transit systems. Therefor it doesn’t become an entitlement.

  2. bencott
    bencott says:

    killing someone while high = straight to jail.
    killing someone while not high = “well, let’s think about this.”
    what a sick joke.

  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    Well yeah, guys. If you are high, you’re breaking the law. If you fail to maintain control of your car, or fail to see another human being in the road, it’s just an accident. Could happen to anyone, ya know.

  4. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    I see in today’s newspaper that a 17-year-old was charged with Careless Driving after being caught driving a whopping 171 km/hr in a 70 zone. His name cannot be released because he is a child.

    Even for children, Careless Driving is punishable by up to six months in prison, and I hope that the judge gives him the full six months.

    The police impounded the car and gave him an on-the-spot seven day driver’s licence suspension.

    Fortunately, there was no crash or collision and nobody was hurt. Six months in jail should help to keep things that way.



    • Scott
      Scott says:

      For those of us whose country still has not caught on to the wonders of the metric system, that’s 106 mph in a 43 mph zone.

Comments are closed.