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Teen crash rate in Alabama is increasing

Posted by lapearce on June 24, 2009

The Alabama Highway Patrol found that teen crashes increased 22 percent from 2007 to 2008, injuries increased 17 percent and the fatality rate among new drivers increased 1 percent. At one level, a 22 percent increase in crashes with only a 1 percent increase in fatalities says that cars are getting safer, or teens are crashing in safer ways (ie more low speed collisions). On the other side of the coin, however, you have some numbers that don’t fit into this country’s insatiable fix to legislate every facet of new driving: from when you can drive, to who you can drive with, to what you can do while driving, laws that are supposed to reduce crashes and save lives.

Alabama in-acted graduated driver’s licenses in 2002 that restricted night driving from 12 a.m.- 6 a.m., restricted passengers to three, and suspended licenses for six months for anyone with a restricted driver who broke certain driving laws. Alabama is currently looking to further strengthen their laws that are weak by today’s standards. Even though Alabama has some restrictions on teen drivers, they don’t have the crucial building block to creating good driving habits:

They don’t require driver’s ed.

This is the theme of the week with news, it seems, as both Florida and Tennessee, states that also have very high fatality and crash rates among new drivers, are recognizing that the states’ lack of driver’s education is probably to blame.

In Alabama, programs that are available (but not required) are finding that the public is appathetic to the problem. One such program, Calhoun County School Dristric’s driver’s education, has been discontinued.

“We really didn’t feel like we had a lot of students interested in taking driver’s education this summer. Our numbers have been dwindling the last few years,” Donald Turner of the school district said.

Butch Wright, who has tought driver’s education in Alabama for 39 years, says education is vital to a teen’s saftey on

AL, TN, and FL all scored low on Allstates recent study of dangerous states for teens to drive in. They dont require drivers education

AL, TN, and FL all scored low on Allstate's recent study of dangerous states for teens to drive in. They don't require driver's education

the road. He also feels that it is important that the teen be taught by a professional, and not their parents. “It’s just easier for someone other than a parent to teach kids to drive. It’s very beneficial, and it takes the pressure off of parents that causes them to argue with their children,” Wright said.

With these three states all showing that a lack of driver’s education has a direct effect on the death rates of their drivers, I have to wonder why nothing is being done to stop it. At the very least why aren’t parents looking for education programs for their teens? And why are legislatures focusing on restrictions and not education? Restrictions, in my mind, are a lot like taking a child’s hand away from a hot pot and saying “no” but not telling them why not to touch the pot. You turn your head for a second and he’s reaching for the pot again, because he doesn’t understand why he shouldn’t touch it.

We need to teach new drivers why safe driving practices work.

(hat tip to ThinkB4YouDrive on twitter)


One Response to “Teen crash rate in Alabama is increasing”

  1. safedriver said

    Well written. Take a look at the Ontario government’s model of Graduated Licensing. It’s a good model here in Canada and seems to work well. New driver crashes are dropping and there are less fatalities and injuries for all drivers, especially during the age range of 16 to 24.

    The Ontario government is changing it in 2010 to increase the practice time before being elligable for a road test from 12 months to 18 months. The time can be reduced if they take approved driver trining.


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