According to an article published September 12, 2011 in the New York Times, a nationwide study showed that tougher licensing laws for teen drivers might not be as effective as everything thought or hoped. (read the article here.)
Teen Driving Solutions has long argued that licensing restrictions and tougher laws for 16 and 17 year old drivers was an attempt to kick the can down the road. Why? Because restrictions don’t produce skill, training produces skill. Let me explain it this way.
Graduated Driver Licenses restrict 16-17 year old drivers from being on the road during the evening hours on weekends because statistically, this is when 54% of teenage vehicle fatalities occurred. Obviously, if teens are no longer allowed on the road during this time period, it stands to reason we would see reductions in the number of fatalities for this age group.
But as this NYT article clearly points out, a high percentage of the fatal crashes we no longer see involving 16-17 year old drivers are now occurring with 18-19 year old drivers. The article sites two primary causes for the sudden increase in fatalities involving older teens. First, many teenagers simply delay getting their license until they’re 18 at which point they can drive without any restrictions.
Secondly, the studies indicate that teenagers who complete their graduated license programs are really not getting the practical driving experience they need. Driving with a parent or adult co-driver protects teenagers from the normal learning experiences that would result from driving alone. Let’s face it, with mom or dad in the car, they are on their best behavior. The problems come in when mom or dad are no longer sitting next to them.
Lastly, the study showed once again that the majority of teenage vehicle fatalities are NOT caused by teens being reckless, “but that they make simple mistakes like failing to scan the road, misjudging driving conditions and becoming distracted.” For decades, driver error has been cited as the leading cause of teen driver fatalities and obviously remains true today.
Graduated Driver Licenses do have benefits and many aspects of these programs are valuable. However, they are not the cure for vehicle fatalities. Restrictions and regulations are NO SUBSTITUTE for professional training. Furthermore, training programs that only focus on teaching vehicle control skills produce similar statistical results as the GDL programs.
When 75-80% of teenage vehicle fatalities result from “driver error”, that means that poor judgment and bad decisions are the root cause. Vehicle control skills are essential when everything goes completely wrong but good judgment followed by good decisions is the key to preventing everything from going wrong in the first place and it is the first step in avoiding dangerous situations.
It is essential that parents today become intimately familiar with the dangers associated with teenage drivers. The lives of your children depend upon your level of awareness and the steps you take to protect them. Teenagers need to understand how to use Sound Judgment for making Good Decisions and they need to learn how to properly control their vehicle in any situation or driving environment.
Our GRIP on Life Teen Driving Seminar is designed to provide drivers with more than just Mental and Vehicle Control Skills. It was designed to teach teenagers how to “think” about their driving and implement a set of principles that will produce sound judgment enabling them to arrive alive at every destination. Take a few moments to review our program and all its many benefits.
Make an investment today that will produce a lifetime return through your child.