Save Our Teen Drivers

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

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An open letter to the lawmakers of Nebraska in regards to teen driving laws

Posted by lapearce on February 7, 2010

Recently Nebraska introduced LB831 which would allow some fourteen-year-olds to drive to school. I am adamantly against allowing children this young to drive because of the inherent dangers. The argument for the bill is that it will save parents time. The argument against the bill is that it will cost young drivers their lives. This is the letter I have just sent to Sentator Utter, who introduced the bill, and the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. If you agree that it is dangerous to allow fourteen-year-olds to drive please send them a letter too.

Email addresses:

dutter@leg.ne.gov; fischer@leg.ne.gov; kcampbell@leg.ne.gov; tgay@leg.ne.gov; ghadley@leg.ne.gov; cjanssen@leg.ne.gov; slautenbaugh@leg.ne.gov; llouden@leg.ne.gov; astuthman@leg.ne.gov

Dear Senator Utter,

My name is Lauren Pearce, I am a teen driving instructor out of California and I am writing to urge you not to allow fourteen-year-olds to drive in your state. In the article I read on the bill you have proposed you mentioned that there hasn’t been much opposition to your bill other than “safety concerns raised about having more young drivers on the road.” I am here to offer some more reasons against letting children this young out on the road the most important one being saving the lives of young Nebraskans.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in America. Each year over 5,000 teens lose their lives in accidents; more than murder, suicide or drugs. Yet, for some reason, most people in the United States are completely unaware of this fact. For example, last year 4,000 Americans died of swine flu compared to 5,000 teens in car crashes, but which epidemic received more coverage? The sad thing is: teen driving deaths are just as avoidable as flu deaths if lawmakers, state DMVs and parents were to become aware of the problem and the solution that is out there.

The younger a teen driver is the more likely they are to be killed while driving. Teens who drive at fourteen are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sixteen-year-old. Sixteen-year-olds in turn are more likely to crash than seventeen-year-olds, who are more likely to crash than eighteen-year-olds. The chances of being involved in a crash steadily decreases with age as drivers gain maturity. If you compare a crash risk of a sixteen-year-old and an eighteen-year-old who have both been driving for the same amount of time, the eighteen-year-old will be safer and less likely to crash because of their increased maturity over the sixteen-year-old. To let fourteen-year-olds out on the road knowingly with the maturity level they possess isn’t just a safety concern for other drivers: it is murder.

I have a fifteen-year-old sister. I am very aware of the maturity level of children this age. My sister is a good student; she is mature for her age and has friends that are beyond her in years. But I would not hand her the keys to a 2-ton vehicle capable of triple digit speeds and say “go drive to school”. Because I love my sister and I want her to make it to sixteen.

Parents who allow teens as young as fifteen and fourteen to drive do so because they are unaware of the risks associated with letting teens of this age out on the road. I’m aware that Nebraska is a rural state and that many children have long distances to travel to school. So what’s next? Do we allow eight-year-olds to drive to save parents the hardship of driving them to elementary school? It parents can drive thirteen-year-olds to school why can’t they also drive fourteen-year-olds?

I grew up in a rural community far from the local high school. I woke up at 5:00AM very morning to get on the 6’o-clock bus to school. The bus would finally reach campus an hour and a half later. Every afternoon I did the same trip in reverse and typically didn’t get home until about 4:00PM even though class was out around 2:00. I did this day in and day out without any other options because in California you cannot drive until you are sixteen. Never did I or my parents consider attempting to change the law just to make it more convenient for us.  We endured like everyone else. I do not see how this should be any different in another state.

I cannot muster even an ounce of sympathy for the parents who want this law, because they are unaware of the potential harm they are bringing to their children. Setting up a carpool or taking your child to school is a far better alternative than having your flesh and blood killed in a car crash because they lack the experience and knowledge to operate a motor vehicle. Is that really worth the time saved for a parents?

I’m not sure if you are aware, but last month a third party organization, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, released its yearly review of states’ teen driving laws. Nebraska was dead last on the list with only 6.5 teen driving laws. In comparison the leader, the District of Columbia, has 13.5 laws.  DC also has a lot less teen fatalities than rural states like Nebraska, one of the reasons being the increased driving laws. Instead of attempting to improve your state’s standing and moving up this list, your law will only save Nebraska’s spot as the worst state for teen drivers for next year. It will cost the lives of teenagers as well as other motorists and make your state more dangerous and more deadly.

Laws alone cannot save lives. What we need is better driver’s education and parental involvement. Defensive driving courses where teens are put behind the wheel of real cars on a closed course are the best way to save lives. At these classes teens are taught maneuvers that will help them avoid crashes and also become aware of their limits as drivers and the limits of their vehicles. It is so much safer for a teen to learn his/her abilities when the only item he/she can hit is a cone, not a tree or another car. The benefits of programs that teach these skills in this way have been confirmed by AAA and other organizations; it’s unfortunate that more lawmakers aren’t aware of the benefits of defensive driving classes.

Parental involvement also reduces crashes significantly. Connecticut has had a lot of success with its new mandated two-hour education class for parents. I suggest that Nebraska also bring parents into the education process and help them understand the risks and challenges of new drivers and how they can help protect their teen through involvement.

Teen car crashes cost states millions of dollars each year. Better education, laws and parental involvement will save money as well as lives. Please, before you allow more young drivers on the road educate yourself to the dangers it will bring to them and other drivers and decide of the ends really justify the means in this case: http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Teen_Drivers/index.html

Thank you for your consideration,

Lauren Pearce

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Senator aims to improve teen driver education

Posted by lapearce on July 23, 2009

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has set his eye on drivers education reform when many people in Congress are engrossed on “reforming” other things. Sen. Schumer has proposed a bill that would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a curriculum that includes in-class and in-car lessons, and create a grant program to fund local classrooms that use the program.

The program is meant to be supplemental to existing programs, now would not be required for a license. Schumer says he hopes that parents, schools and churches will encourage involvement. I wonder how successful that would be.

Also, it is not clear how this program would fit in with another act trying to solve the teen driving problem called STANDUP, which would require all states to have the same teen driving laws. Schumer is not an author of that act so I am unsure of what his stance is on it since it has yet to be debated or voted on. A search of his Web site came up with no mention of STANDUP or his opinion on it.

The cost of the program is an estimated $25 million a year, a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $36 billion teen car crashes cost the society in 2006. But I want to make sure the money is spent right: in creating a truely good curriculum that fully addresses the flaws in the current system and fixes them. It needs to have a defensive driving component and it needs to involve parents. Otherwise, it’s just throwing money away (government’s favorite past time).

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NHTSA knew risks about cell phones but did not act!

Posted by lapearce on July 21, 2009

What would cause a public agency that was formed to protect you, the consumer, to sit on hundreds of pages of research that said driving while talking on the phone was dangerous? Why would provoke an agency that’s mission is to: “save lives, prevent injuries and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes, through education, research, safety standards and enforcement activity.” to not do what it was formed to do?

Congress.

Or at least, the fear of Congress. That is what provoked the NHTSA to not act on undeniable proof that cell phones lead to crashes. The agency worried that if it was to start promoting this research to the states it would come off as lobbying. It worried that if Congress thought it was lobbying, it would pull billions of transportation funds from the agency.

The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen used the public information act to access this information, uncovering quite the scandal in the NHTSA, the Transportation Department, and potentially the House Appropriations Committee. The documents can be views here. In one of the memos uncovered these quotes:

“We nevertheless have concluded that the use of cellphones while driving has contributed to an increasing number of crashes, injuries and fatalities.”

“We therefore recommend that the drivers not use wireless communication devices, including text messaging systems, when driving, except in an emergency.”

NHTSAs mission is to save lives... by hiding information that can save lives?

NHTSA's mission is to save lives... by hiding information that can save lives?

In total, cell phones have been blamed for 955 fatalities and 240,000 accidents  in 2002. These numbers have most likely increased since cell phone use has increased from 77 percent of adults to 89 percent of adults from 2006.

The rational behind the decision of the Transportation Department is mind boggling. Here is an organization designed to save lives, and yet they are sitting on information that could save lives because they don’t want to lose funding?

Director of the Center for Auto Safety, Clarence Ditlow put it this way: “We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up.”

So what will come of this? A slap on the hand? Or worse? Perhaps lawsuits from those injured or by the family members of people who were killed? I think it is common sense that talking on the phone and driving is dangerous. I don’t think we need a government agency to spend millions of dollars to confirm that cell phone use while driving is dangerous. But the reasoning for not confirming this is completely unacceptable.

Ditmore says it well: “No public health and safety agency should allow its research to be suppressed for political reasons,” and doing so “will cause deaths and injuries on the highways.”

We need to see where else this is happening. What other agencies aren’t doing potentially life saving research for fear of losing funding? And why would Congress pull funding when an agency does its job? Changes obviously need to be made.

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38% of teens street race, 97% think it is dangerous.

Posted by lapearce on July 16, 2009

Street racing crash that killed two teens

Street racing crash that killed two teens

Sometimes there are crashes that really stick with us. One of them for me is a street racing crash that happened in 2006. Two 18-year-old boys in fast cars with female passengers were racing at high speed down a city street at night.

The cars crested a hill making the new BMW M3 get light. When the weight settled back down the car went into a spin. It hit a wall on the side of the road with so much speed, that it flipped over and landed 30 feet away. The driver and one of the passengers were killed, the other passenger was badly injured. The driver’s parents were later sued by the surviving girl’s family and the driver of the other car was driving with a suspended license because of five tickets.

Tragedies like this happen all the time. They happen because teens think bad things won’t happen to them. That’s the only way I can explain the disconnect between nearly 100 percent of teens thinking street racing is dangerous, but nearly 40 percent doing it. They think that how they are doing it is safer than anyone else, because of xy&z. But it’s not kids, it’s not.

Movies and video games that glorify street racing is one part of the problem. Street racing deaths increased after the Fast and Furious movies came out. The video game Need For Speed where kids can customize and race their cars against others on the street sold 5.3 million copies last year alone. Another problem is the lack of legal drag strips for teens to use instead of the open road. The biggest cause, however, is a lack of maturity, experience and the inability to recognize risk. Teens are prewired to do things like this. In a lot of ways, they can’t help it.

Street racing has been portrayed as cool in movies for decades

Street racing has been portrayed as cool in movies for decades. Here "Grease Lighting" races in the film Grease.

What is the answer to the problem? I think a lot of it is in communication. Only 57 percent of teens said they would ask the driver to stop if he/she was street racing. Talk to your new drivers about the risks, and tell them if they EVER feel the driver is doing something dangerous to not be afraid to ask them to stop. Being labled a wuss is better than being dead. Not being a passenger of a teen driver is also a good way to reduce the chances of street racing too. A lot of times the new driver is trying to show off to passengers, which is why (I feel) street racing is more likely to happen with passengers.

As for the street racing component, pressing the dangers is important, but I also think it is vital to give teens another outlet. Take them to the drag strip, sign them up for autocrosses. It  gets the speed out of their system. Some people worry that it will make them more likely to be dangerous on the road, but in my experience, it takes away the craving for speed and helps expose the danger of the activities on the open road.

Street racing will never go away. For as long as there have been cars there have been street races. I heard a great old tune the other day called “My Hot Rod Lincoln” written by Charlie Ryan in 1955. The last line is:

They arrested me and they put me in jail

and called my pappy to throw my bail

And he said, “Son, you’re gunna’ drive me to drinkin’

If you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot Rod Lincoln!”

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Atlanta mom fights for new driver magnets

Posted by lapearce on July 6, 2009

 

Kessler has sold 15,000 of her magnets nationwide

Kessler has sold 15,000 of her magnets nationwide

Susie Kessler of Kennassaw Georgia is fighting for legislation that would mandate new drivers have a magnet that identifies them as novice drivers. She has formed a non profit called Caution and Courtesy Driver Alliance and has already sold 15,000 magnets. She thinks that the magnets will encourage other drivers to give new drivers space and pressure new drivers to be more cautious on the road. Magnets like this were recently mandated in New Jersey and are optional in Delaware

 

I have yet to see any studies that prove that identifying teen drivers work in reducing crashes. I am not writing the idea off, however. Especially not in states were teen drivers have more driving restrictions than adult drivers. The magnets will help law enforcement identify new drivers are allow them to be more accurate in enforcing teen driving laws, such as cell phone bans. I also feel that teens will know they are marked and drive safer to reduce their chances of tickets. It will be interesting to see how New Jersey’s crash rate is decreased once magnets are issued.

On the other side of the spectrum of the argument that magnets help reduce crashes, you have people who argue that the magnets infringe upon our freedoms and rights in America. The LRC Blog calls Kessler, “a bored, brainless, busybody citizen-tyrant who is rotten to the core.” Of course, the blog offers no proof to explain why her idea is “brainless”, but what do you expect from angry anarchists?

LRC calls itself an “anti-state, anti-war, pro-market” blog they are against any law that restricts any “rights” of the people. However, the writers of the blog are apparently unaware of what a right is. Human rights, as defined by the UN Doctrine on Human Rights, are: the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. Driving is not a basic human right, but the ability to live a safe life is, and this right is infringed upon when one is injured or killed in a car crash. So in my opinion, magnets or any other restriction on teen drivers is not an infringement on any freedom or right because driving is not a right, it is a privilege. You earn the privilege to drive and you owe it to others to drive safety.

If we find that magnets lead to teens driving safer than it would infringe upon the freedoms of other drivers not to enforce them.

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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)

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NY is botching new teen driving laws… again

Posted by lapearce on June 17, 2009

Hey Mr. Bill why are you sitting out here? Because the New York Senators are too busy fighting for control to pass me!

"Hey Mr. Bill why are you sitting out here?" "Because the New York Senators are too busy fighting for control to pass me!"

This month a comprehensive teen driving bill made it through New York State Assembly and was passed today.  The bill will require a 6 month period before a permitted teen could get their license and restrict teen drivers from having teen passengers, using cell phones, and driving at night.

A wrote about this before the assembly passed the bill 133-0 in anger because the legislature had failed to pass a similar bill last year for one reason:

It would have required seat belt use for passengers over the age of 16.

Now, study after study shows that seatbelt use is lowest among teenagers than any other demographic. It is also proven that states that require belt use have a higher rate of compliance. But, don’t tell that to New York legislatures, who got so caught up in their own selfishness and dislike for wearing seatbelts, as well as the nuances of what it means to wear one properly, that they rejected the bill over the use of this life saving device.

Well, the legislature looks like it is going to mess up, again, but this time, it is political, not personal.

Even though the bill easily passed legislature, a 31-31 split between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate has left the house divided and without a controlling party. So what is the democratic thing to do in a devided house? Apparently in New York it is to do nothing. They haven’t met in a bill-passing session since the 11th. The 2009 session is ending next week, and with a number of laws expiring in July that will need to be reviewed, who knows if the teen driving law will get passed in time.

Here we are in the middle of the most dangerous time for new drivers, and petty debates over who is the majority party are costing lives in New York. What selfishness, what shame. You weren’t elected to stroke your own ego, to gain control, you were elected to better your state. I would also like to personally single out Assemblyman Gantt for trying to remove part of the law that would ban text messaging. Shame on you for trying to remove such an important part of the bill. Who wants to bet that Gantt likes a little text messaging while he drives, while most likely not wearing his seatbelt, to and from work?

Shame on all of you. Put your egos aside and do your job!

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Remembering those killed on the road

Posted by lapearce on June 15, 2009

Neighbors tie ribbon around tree to honor three children killed in a crash in 2007

Neighbors tie ribbon around tree to honor three children killed in a crash in 2007

Yesterday was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. It may not have made it on your calendar, but when you figure that more Americans die every year in car crashes than Americans were killed in the Korean War it is apparent that this is a problem that needs to be remembered, but more importantly, needs to be addressed.

The above link says about this memorial:

We are all vulnerable, but some are more vulnerable than others

Remember the deaths we forget

More than malaria

A tsunami every three months

A 9/11 every day

The leading killer of the young and the healthy

The leading killer of the young and the healthy. And yet, it is a problem that we seem to want to forget, or are ignorant to the fact that it even exists. This day of remembrance comes in the middle of the most deadly time for teen drivers. Thousands of teens have already died this year, and thousands more will give their lives before the year is over. As the year comes to an end, we will have lost more young lives to car crashes than we’ve lost in the entire Iraq War.

So why aren’t people on our street corners with signs to save teen drivers? Why aren’t we demanding change in the realms of driver’s education. We know what the solution is: better laws, parental involvement and better driver’s training. So why aren’t we outraged that not enough is being done to solve this problem. I am not trying to minimize those lost in the Iraq War, but aren’t these young people also dying in vein?

The point of remembering those who are lost, in my opinion, is to carry on their legacy and to not allow history to repeat itself. If we forget why something horrible happens, we run the risk of having it happen again. In justifying the Holocaust, Hilter reportedly said, “For who remembers the Armenians?” As a society, we are choosing to forget the epidemic that is killing our teens in this nation.

It’s time for us to stand up and to demand that something be done to address the number one killer of teens. Laws need to be changed, parents need to be involved in the process, and teens need better in-car training to better prepare themselves for the dangers on the road. Hopefully, one day in the future, car crashes will no longer be the number one killer of our young and our healthy.

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Half of local road’s fatalities were 18 or younger

Posted by lapearce on June 12, 2009

Memorial for Ryan Case on Live Oak Canyon Rd. He was 18 when he over corrected and struck a tree.

Memorial for Ryan Case, 18, on Live Oak Canyon Rd. He over corrected and struck a tree.

I’m a car nut. I’m very active on a large BMW forum where the average member is an 18 year old male, per our demographics. Recently, a thread titled “post your crashes” brought something very illuminating to light:

A lot of these teen boys crash on canyon roads (or twisties). Here are some of the explanations given:

“Lost it in some twisties and went off the road into a ditch.”

“Tackling some twisties, lost it on a gravel patch, collected a CLS350 heading the opposite direction. Wrote off both cars”

“On one of the local twisties here, there is a small chicane section over a bridge that you can hit close to the top of 3rd gear. I went into the chicane at 75 mph, tapped the throttle over the bridge while transitioning right and the back end kicked out. I over correct and lodged the rear right tire right between the cement and slammed the back end into a telephone pole.”

I, like many other, weren’t shocked to hear that this 3 1/2 mile road, that has been the place of 12 deaths in the past 10, years, kills more teens than it does adults. Only two of those 12 deaths have been to people over the age of 25, and most of them have been to teens.

I have an unique point of view on this, as both a drivign instructor, and a person who grew up near this road. When I was a teen we would go down there and drive the canyon. Looking back now, we did really stupid stuff. Obviously, this past time hasn’t changed. Kids like to drive, and they like to think that they are good drivers. I thought I was God’s gift to driving when I was 16, that I was such a better driver than everyone else on the road. Man was I wrong. Luckily, I got to learn through experience, not tragedy.

Unfortunately, not as many people are as lucky as I was.

Of the 189 fatal and injury crashes that have occurred on Live Oak Canyon Road since 1999, excessive speed has been found to be the leading cause of the crash in 32 percent of the cases. Unsafe movement is believed to be the leading cause in 39 percent of the cases.But the two causes are connected and excessive speed is often what causes the driver to make an unsafe movement of the vehicle, Goodwin said. Add inexperience to the equation, and you have a driver that may overcorrect when his or her car swerves at high speeds.

“Speed leads to an unsafe lane movement,” Goodwin said. “They’re losing control of the vehicle and overcompensate.”

Residents and officials are trying to find ways now to make the road safer for drivers (i.e. make it unfun for teens to go racing through). I still live by this road, and I still like driving this road. It seems like to protect the teens they may be forced to punish the masses, however. I just wish we taught these kids they weren’t invincible so that mitigation measures like these weren’t needed.

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People complain about “cheap” driver’s ed costs

Posted by lapearce on June 4, 2009

I’ve spoken to a few people who learned how to drive in Europe and Japan. One such man from Norway explained a driver’s education system that puts ours to shame. the process, first and foremost, takes a lot longer and includes a lot more instruction. Before receiving his license he had to prove that he could drive in snow, ice and rain, drive a manual transmission, drive on the highway and perform basic maintenance tasks. And people complain here about needing to know how to parallel park!

The cost of getting a license in Norway: over $2,000 USD.

And Norway is not the exception of the rule. Countries across Europe require similar skills at similar costs. In Japan there are driving schools set up all over the country where teens can learn in a safe place how to control a car in a number of different situations on closed courses. After they receive their license they are branded as new drivers with a sticker. If you crash into a new driver it is automatically your fault, because you are a professional, and they are just a novice. What a different mindset than we have here in America.

Because of the difference in our requirements, and the mindset Americans have toward driving (we feel entitled to the right to drive, not privileged to receive the responsibility like in so many other countries) I was not surprised to read this article from Massachusetts where families complain about paying $800 for driver’s training, over a thousand less than many European countries.

The costs of getting a license in Massachusetts were increased because the driving training requirements have increased. Teens need 12 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction compared to just six hours prior to 2007. Doubling the time with an instructor has, predictably, doubled the average costs of licensing.

Example of Japanese novice driver sticker

Example of Japanese novice driver sticker

Despite a 1:1 ratio of hours-to-costs in Mass. people are still complaining about these “exhortation” costs. “It’s ridiculous,” said Meaghan Huleatt, 17, a recent driver’s education graduate who will be a senior at Barnstable High School in the fall. “They’re asking for way too much money.”

Tom Furino, who started the non-profit M.V. Drive for Life after losing his son, David, in 2005, is partially responsible for the increase in driver’s training requirements. He also feels, however, that the added costs can be offset by 5 percent surcharge on moving violations that would be used to fund high school driver’s training courses. He believes this could save families at least $100. However, in a time of budget cuts, he is skeptical that his plan will make it through legislation.

Even with the “high” costs of licenses in Mass, people are still getting them. They still want to drive.

Thomas Vitanen, program director at Grand Prix Driving School points out that the added education can pay for itself in insurance savings, which are typically around 10 percent a year. I’d also like to point out that if the increased education saves your child from one crash, it paid for itself in the savings of the insurance deductive, let alone the increase you’d see on your insurance.

However, the increased driver’s education goes a step further than just saving people money on their insurance: it will potentially save lives. I am still left speechless at parents who won’t pay for supplemental driver’s education because it is “too expensive” what is the value of your child’s life? If it saves a life, isn’t the extra cost worth it?

The bottom line is that we need better, more comprehensive driver’s education in America, and that it will come at an extra cost. Driving is not a right. It isn’t something that someone deserves or should just get just because they turn 16. It is a responsibility. It is a privilege. People should be prepared for it. Yes, I understand that increased costs are difficult for a lot of families, and that some people will not be able to afford it. I understand that our pathetic public transportation system would make it difficult for these families to find an alternate solution. I believe that these issues are the reason why America is so far beyond Europe and Japan in driver’s training. Those places have great public transportation, and in Japan especially, driving is not seen as a right.

For the time being, I beg the people of Mass. to realize the benefit to the increased requirements. They pay off and they save lives.

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