Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Restrictions on Teen Age Driving

A bill has been introduced by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) in the Indiana General Assembly to essentially raise the driving age by six months and to only allow those under 18 to operate a vehicle with certain restrictions. Drivers under 18 would not be allowed todrive from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday or 1 to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Exemptions include work, school or church-related function.

The Star article on the bill, which includes a handy summary of the proposed new restrictions can be found here:

Many people may lament this as more government restriction on rights. I do not agree at all. Minors do not have nor should they have the same rights as adults. (I'm not going to go down the road of mislabeling driving a privilege and not a right. Driving is not a "privilege" but a right you have if you meet certain conditions established by state law. Most rights have conditions to them.) I think it is pure insanity that we allow 15 year olds probationary licenses and 16 year olds virtually unlimited driver's licenses. Kids, and they are kids, simply do not have the maturity yet to make the best decisions when behind the wheel of a 2000 pound vehicle. Many of our children pay for these mistakes with their lives.

A few years ago, I found myself on a highway running north and south through Miami. The traffic was going 70 miles an hour, bumper to bumper, cars cutting in and out. It was a nerve-wracking, frightening experience. But because I was older, I had the maturity to not lose my cool. I held my position and eventually got out of the traffic. I would hate to think of a 16 year old facing that situation.

Our driving laws date back from when Indiana was primarily a farming state with little in the way of urban areas or heavy traffic. The age of 16 to drive made sense in the days when children were often called upon to perform tasks around the farm that involved driving. Today though we live in a completely different society, one more urbanized with many more traffic hazards. Driving today is an adult responsibility that many people under 18 are not mature enough to assume. Let's not risk their lives and ours by continuing with the folly of giving children the same right to operate a vehicle as adults.


varangianguard said...

I drive a lot. And in doing so, it's my experience that it's judgement that is the key factor, not age. Now, for most people under 20 some years of age, judgement is sometimes an elusive concept. Still, for way too many people over 20 something, the same elusiveness applies.

I would prefer that legislation -not- use some benchmark that may, or may not, really affect the issue at hand. This is because there are plenty of drivers out there who have little business being granted drivers' licenses, who have one merely by achieving a inconsequential benchmark (inconsequential to any notion of driving judgement or skills).

Paul K. Ogden said...


I agree that there are people under 16 who exercise good judgment and those who are 26 who exercise bad judgment. But in terms of pure numbers, most of the time it's the 26 year old exercising the better judgment.

There are many rights we do not bestow on minors because of the assumption they as a group (not as an individual) are not ready for them.

I'm not real keen on things like driving classes preparing people to drive. Good judgment comes more with maturity than somethig that can be taught in a class.

Diana Vice said...

This is one of the very few times that you'll find me coming out in favor of more government restrictions. Good post, Paul.

The brains of teenagers are not fully developed. Studies have shown that we do not develop full reasoning skills until about the age of 20.

Maybe we should change the voting age as well.

varangianguard said...

Experience is a great help towards gaining some skills in judgement on how to react to things.

Pilot trainees get a lot of time in the simulator, why not drivers? Jeez, it's not like we lack the technology or something.

From experience, I don't like people being lumped into willy-nilly categories based upon someone else's "assumptions" or "theories".

You're too young, you're too old, you're just a girl, you're too small, you're too large, you're just a liberal arts major, you don't have any experience. Lame, lame, lame.

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