October 10, 1997 in City

Step-By-Step Plan Can Reduce Carnage ‘Terrible Drivers’ Graduated Licensing Is A Solid Idea That Idaho And Washington Should Adopt.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

This week, a group of teens in Harrison, Idaho, mourned the loss of their friends after yet another fatal Inland Northwest car accident.

Fifteen-year-old Miles Jones piled three friends into his 1983 Toyota Corolla after school last Friday and took off south of Harrison. Jones lost control of the car on a dangerous curve and hit a tree, killing himself and 17-year-old Edward Leonard.

According to the National Safety Council, 40 out of every 100 licensed 16-year-old drivers experience a crash each year. Among 45- to 54-year-old drivers the rate is only 9 out of 100. Had an experienced 50-year-old driver been behind the wheel of Jones’ car, that accident last Friday might never have happened.

“Teenagers are terrible drivers,” says David Willis, executive director of the American Automobile Assocation Foundation for Traffic Safety. “They are inexperienced and do not have the ability to perceive risks appropriately. They tend to go too fast and leave too little room for safety.”

It is time we stop pulling Inland Northwest teens out of tragic car wrecks and start examining how we train and license young drivers. Licensing laws in Idaho and Washington were developed in an era when speeds were slower, highways less congested and the culture less violent and aggressive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a new graduated driver’s licensing system for young drivers. Eight states have adopted similar systems. This idea allows a teen driver to gradually assume greater driving privileges over 2-1/2 years. The first stage is a learner’s permit at 15-1/2, which requires a licensed adult over 21 in the car at all times. Kids who successfully hold this license without any crashes or convictions for six months may move to the next stage. The intermediate stage requires, in part, a licensed adult driver in the car during late-night driving and at least 12 consecutive months without an accident or conviction before receiving a full license at age 18.

Graduated licensing is a solid idea that Idaho and Washington would do well to adopt. In the meantime, parents can make stricter rules for their own teens. In our zeal for our children’s independence, let’s not forget to protect them. Rather than grieving so many needless losses, let’s give kids sound limits that can help them drive safely.

, DataTimes MEMO: See opposing view under the headline: Too-simple remedy is a disservice to all

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Jamie Tobias Neely/For the editorial board

See opposing view under the headline: Too-simple remedy is a disservice to all

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Jamie Tobias Neely/For the editorial board

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