October 10, 1997 in City

Too-Simple Remedy Is A Disservice To All Dragnet The Graduated License Plan Impacts All Teens, Including Those Whose Performance Is Exemplary.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

It’s the American way: identify a problem, write a law, go on to the next problem.

So, if teenagers account for a disproportionate share of traffic accidents, it’s not surprising that several states have responded with a complex system of graduated driving privileges, doled out along age divisions narrow enough to defy the most observant law-enforcement officers’ ability to make the distinctions.

The American Automobile Association is one organization that favors graduated licensing. But that is only one of several strategies AAA suggests to help make teens better, safer drivers.

A report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, for instance, calls for the reinvention of driver education so it will emphasize how to drive safely instead of how to obtain a license.

More effective driver training, coupled with stricter license-exam standards - including regular behind-the-wheel exams for drivers of all ages - would be more effective at improving traffic safety than a tiered licensing system aimed at a classification rather than at individuals.

The graduated license plan impacts all teens, including those with an unblemished, even exemplary, record. It also includes youngsters who capably and maturely use their driving privileges to run family errands, get themselves to and from school and jobs, participate in constructive after-school activities. Youngsters who abuse the privilege by rocketing recklessly down the highway, endangering themselves and others, should be held accountable. So should careless, inattentive, unskilled motorists of any age.

If 16-year-olds aren’t ready to drive, then the eligibility age should be raised to a more appropriate level. But society does consider 16-year-olds ready to drive and has for years.

Statistics being used to justify graduated licenses are relative. The youngest, least experienced drivers now are involved in more than their share of accidents. Take them out of the picture and a different group will be the most accident prone. But there still will be a most-accident-prone group.

The best monitors of teen driving performance are parents who pay for the vehicles, repairs and insurance. Holding an entire age group accountable for the shortcomings of some is as simplistic as it is unfair.

, DataTimes MEMO: See opposing view under the headline: Step-by-step plan can reduce carnage

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides

See opposing view under the headline: Step-by-step plan can reduce carnage

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides


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