A familiar question heard in homes across America is “can I borrow the car”. To most that phrase does not mean anything, but to families who have gone through a period of grief, due to the lost of a loved one, would think twice before answering that question. Many experts say that teenagers are a threat to roadways, but sixteen-year-olds are the one to watch out for. Why point the finger at sixteen-year-olds? These groups of teenagers are three times as likely to be killed in a crash, but not to say that other teen drivers are harmless.
Teenage drivers make up twelve and a half percent of the driving force, but account for thirty percent of all motor vehicle accidents (State of Maine 2). There are many differences between sixteen-year-old drivers and drivers between the age of seventeen and nineteen. The main reason why sixteen-year-olds create more havoc on the roadways is because they lack the extra experience that older drivers have. In nearly forty percent of all teenage crashes the driver was speeding (P. A. S. T. 1). Since forty-three percent of all teenage driving is done between 9:00 p. m. and 6:00 a. m. , teenagers tend to drive faster, due to the open roads (P. A. S. T. 1).
The roads are not as condensed at night as they are at some times during the day, making it easier to speed. Fifty-seven percent of all accidents occur on rural roads another reason why teens do not hesitate before speeding. Failure to keep in the proper lane, running off the road and failure to use a seat belt are the most common in teenage crashes. Over crowding is another reason why teen crash rates are so high. Many teenagers have friends who cannot drive, hence overcrowding is common. Overcrowding is a problem because the driver can lose concentration from the commotion caused in the car.
In thirty-three percent of all accidents caused by sixteen-year-olds there were three or more people present in the vehicle, compared to thirty-seven percent by seventeen through nineteen-year-olds. Many people think that the teen crash rates are high due to alcohol and drugs, but as statistics show that is not necessary the case. In all accidents caused by sixteen-year-olds in 1993 five percent of them were intoxicated (Washington Post Z13). In twenty-eight percent of crashes caused by seventeen through nineteen-year-olds alcohol played a major role. Property damage is one of many effects of careless teen driving.
There was an estimated $52. 1 billion in property damage by teenagers in 1996. The most serious effect of poor teen driving is fatalities. More teenagers die in automobile accidents then drugs, suicide, and homicides. In 1996 6,319 teens, aged fifteen to twenty, died in car accidents. This number is equivalent to one death every 64 minutes (P. A. S. T. 1). Obviously, careless driving cannot be tolerated and loss of license is an option used frequently by officials. Programs such as the graduated driver system have been created to make sure youngsters have enough knowledge about driving.
With the graduated driver system, drivers go through gradual processes with a goal to obtain a no restriction license. The first stop of the graduated driver system is the learners permit. During this stage the driver can only operate a vehicle under adult supervision. This period also includes basic driver education and no crashes and violation can be made. After completing the permit stage, the driver obtains an intermediate license. Fewer restrictions are imposed at this stage. The driver is now able to drive unsupervised during daylight hours.
This period may include advanced driver education and continues with zero driver error tolerance. At the final stage the driver obtains a no restrictions license. This system has shown positive results because it expands the learning process, reduces high-risk exposure, and enhances motivation for safe driving (N. H. T. S. A. 2-3). Public schools also offer a driver education program. This program requires all students, aged 15 and above, to take a mandatory course on driving. Many officials say that the school driver education program pressures teens to obtain a permit at an early age.
A final option which many states have adapted to is the provisional license (Time 56). The provisional license is a temporary license, which a driver uses for up one to two years. After the driver shows maturity a regular license will be handed out. Many parents think that the state should be more involved with this moral issue. The state legislation has to strengthen current laws and laws regulating when novice drivers can drive. States with nighttime driving restrictions and curfews for young novice drivers, like New Jersey, have fewer crash rates.
The DMV should supervise school driving classes as well as driver education programs (Washington Trial 117). Many students in poorer school districts are not getting the same education as other students. States should also create harder written and road test. Many students pass the written part because they are able to take it as many times as necessary. The road test is fairly easy to pass because it does not simulate an actual driving environment. Teenagers are a threat to the general welfare. Obviously, due to the lack of experience six-teen year olds will have higher crash rates then seven-teen year olds.
That one-year does make a difference. If New Jersey does increase the licensing age; state crash rates will be lowered. The number of crashes will gradually decrease each year with the addition of new programs and laws. While driver education and driving skills are important, that alone cannot solve the problem. Parents, state, community, and teenagers must work together and try a comprehensive approach to the problem. Parents and teens must understand when the time is right to accept the important privilege of driving to make future years of driving more enjoyable.