Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Michigan puts activism before safety in drivers training

Posted by lapearce on November 30, 2009

Michigan is not in good financial state right now. Most states aren’t, but as far as financial woes go, Michigan is at the forefront with many of its bread-winning companies (GM, Chrysler) struggling to survive, corruption in its government and other serious problems. The state is running in the red and has the highest unemployment rate in the nation– 15.1% as of 11/20. Michigan has issues, but one of those issues is not a lack of environmental awareness among new drivers. However, some representatives in Michigan seem to think this problem is pressing enough to pursue when entire towns are being boarded up and abandoned due to the economic crisis.

Driver’s education should be the place where teens learn how to drive. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case in America. Our standards for licensing are incredibly poor and this is reflected in the high number of fatal teen crashes in the nation’s roads. Teens learn more about how to pass the drivers test and how a yield sign works than how to actually drive. They are not taught how to avoid crashes and they are not taught safe driving practices to help ensure they are never in the place where they need to avoid a crash. Michigan also lacks solid graduated drivers license laws. So not only is the state not teaching teens how to drive, its not offering them adequate protection once they get their license. But instead of fixing these problems two legislatures would rather cultivate new tree huggers in an education model that will only cause more crashes and more deaths.

Now, let me get something straight. I’m not anti-environment. I’m not for raping the earth just for our consumption. I don’t go out and hug many trees, but I do my part. I buy local and organic, I use reusable shopping bags, I drive a car that gets pretty good fuel economy, I take public transportation. Oh, and I vote Republican. But I’m a moderate. So I’m not against things like carpool or public transportation, I’m just against using the precious few hours teens spend in drivers education talking about these things instead of talking about, oh, you know– driving.

Michigan lawmakers  Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, and Dan Scripps, D-Leland have put forth a bill that would require drivers education to teach about buying fuel efficient cars and the benefits of carpooling and using public transportation. On its surface this may seem rather benign, but it is far from that.

First off: fuel efficient cars. Ok, whats wrong with that? Well, many fuel efficient cars sacrifice handling, braking and safety for the sake of a few miles per gallon. We’ve had a tug of war battle between safety and fuel economy in this nation since both environmentalism and Nader’s car safety campaign began in the 1970s. The sad fact is that these two agendas conflict with each other.

The Untied State’s CAFE standards kill people every year. CAFE is the US standards on fuel economy that started in the 1970s.  Manufactures are fined for not meeting standards, pushing them to make more fuel efficient cars. But fuel efficiency doesn’t always equal safety. Simply physics is that more weight protects you in a crash. Safety systems such as airbags, ABS brakes, traction control, and crumple zones are all heavy. So are powerful motors, navigation control, and heated motorized leather seats that the consumer demands. Throw all of these things into a car and you have one heavy vehicle… and that weight decreases fuel economy. So to increase fuel economy, manufacturers started to use lighter materials to make cars. The effect: 46,000 fatalities since CAFE was inacted that would have been avoided with better made cars. That’s 7,700 deaths for every mpg gained.

Prius are heavy and narrow, they handle and stop poorly which can lead to crashes

I’m not advocating that everyone drives Excurions guzzling gallons of gas a minute, but I also don’t think that the Prius and other fuel efficient cars are good choices for most people. Michigan has pretty bad weather, by focusing on fuel efficiency you may put kids who should be driving higher clearance AWD cars for the conditions in FWD cars that can’t handle snow as well, increasing crashes. What if you play sports? A little hatch back may not be the best option to haul around your gear. By emphasizing fuel efficiency only you are ignoring the different needs of different drivers. You are also ignoring other points of consideration for new cars such as safety, price and maintenance needs. This is before you even consider the fact that the average 16 year old isn’t the one going out and buying their first car, it is usually mom or dad.

Second problem: carpooling. There is a very good reason why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that teens not be allowed to carry passengers until they’ve had their license for a year. Teen drivers with ONE passenger in the car are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a teen driver driving along. Twice as likely. They are distracting and the lead to peer pressure. Teens are more likely to show off when they have other teens in the car in order to look cool for their friends– a trait that has lead to many crashes. Michigan does not include passenger restrictions in their graduated drivers laws. Instead of asking why not, these two legislature are taking advantage in the flaws in the system to further their agendas. By encouraging carpooling they will kill kids.

Yes, carpooling saves gas, it keeps miles of the car, it makes Mother Nature sing a loving song right out of a Disney movie, but it is also dangerous. Ask any parent what is more important to them: saving a few bucks a month on fuel economy or having their child reach 17. I think we all know how that one is going to end.

Well what about public transportation? I think public transportation is great. I use the train myself quite a bit instead of driving. I don’t have any objection to teaching teens about public transportation… in another venue. Why teach drivers about not driving? Isn’t that like teaching math in history class? It doesn’t make sense to be in driver’s education at all. There is also probably a safety aspect here to teenage girls taking public transportation late at night too that I’m sure many parents would have issue with.

Our teens get precious little education when it comes to driving. It is a big problem that should be addressed. It has been said that if teen driving was a disease that killed 5,000 teens each year the nation would be in an uproar. Everyone would be trying to find a cure, there would be walks, donation drives, etc, but the fatal teen driving epidemic cannot be cured by a pill, it can only be cured by more and higher quality education. I feel there is a huge flaw in our system of government when it comes to setting laws. We entrust people without actual knowledge in issues to create laws for them. If either Bert Johnson or Dan Scripps of Michigan had any worthwhile drivers education and experience, or if either of them had just bothered to look at the NHTSA teen driving page, they would realize their law was a bad idea.

Stop taking driving out of drivers training! We need more in car education not less. Take your environmental agenda to a place that is more approrpaite and leave drivers training for drivers training!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: