No kiddie drivers

Sep 282004
Authors: Vincent Adams

We all remember turning 16. We remember counting down the days

until that magical number. We remember pleading with our parents to

let us drive, under their watch, to the grocery store so we can

take advantage of our learner’s permit – all in preparation for

getting our own driver’s license in a few months.

Turning 16 and getting your driver’s license is the biggest

event in adolescence.

But as the saying goes, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil

it for everyone.

Our state lawmakers will burn a few brain cells this January

debating a new bill that would prevent newly-licensed drivers from

having juvenile passengers. The law would forbid 16-year-old

drivers from having passengers younger than 21 for the first six

months the youngster has his or her license. The law would also

prevent these minor drivers from cruising the streets from midnight

to 5 a.m. until they have had a license for at least a year.

To a youngster who has been eagerly counting the days to 16,

this would-be law may seem a little harsh. After all, this would-be

law rears its potential because a few hormone-drunk teens have

killed others, and themselves, through reckless driving. Again, the

few bad apples.

However, this law doesn’t go far enough.

When you are 16, you cannot vote, buy tobacco or buy

pornography. While tobacco and porn are hardly inaccessible to

youngsters, we recognize people under the age of 18 are still too

young to make certain decisions. Too young to vote means too young

too drive.

The automobile is a loaded weapon. Every day you drive you hold

the lives of hundreds or thousands of people in your hands. That is

a huge burden to bear – a burden too heavy for 16-year-old


I remember when I was 16. I was a very responsible and calm

young driver. I also remember how great it was to have freedom and

be one of the first of my age group to have a car – my car was a

piece of crap, but it was still more than many my age had.

But my calm and responsible ways were the exception. Many of my

friends and peers were extremely reckless. These peers of mine

would drive 20-plus miles over the speed limit, dodge in and out of

lanes, and ignore street signs.

Sure, these peers of mine might also be an exception, but they

could have killed themselves, others and me. No life should be lost

for cheap thrills and good times. Too many 16-year-olds are simply

too young to understand the consequences of reckless driving.

Our state legislators are right to look at this issue and

consider solutions. But this proposal falls way short of a

solution. Seriously, what is the difference between the 16-year-old

mind and the 16.5-year-old mind? Not much. This would-be law is

being too cautious and seems more concerned with keeping up the

American tradition than keeping our roads safe.

Of course, 16-year-olds, and their often-reckless ways, are not

the sole problem endangering our roads. People of all ages are

reckless, and law enforcement should probably have a stronger

presence against thrill seeking, moron drivers. But 18 is the

standard for adulthood, and only adults should drive.

Vince Adams is a graduate student studying English. His columns

runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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