Changing the driving rules

Earlier, I wrote that the proposals to strengthen the junior operator law didn't go far enough, and in the days since that post, three teenagers and a 10-year-old have been killed in just two car accidents on Massachusetts roads. In both accidents, teenagers were behind the wheel. I point it out as a matter of fact, not to lay blame on anyone. That's not my place. These are tragedies and no amount of hyperbole about better driving laws could have prevented the accidents.

A former schoolmate of mine died in a car crash right at the end of my street. He was a chum before we went to different high schools and lost touch. I had my learner's permit for a month and I had barely figured out how to turn on the windshield wipers without taking my eyes off the road. In that accident, where speed and weather were factors, I learned how easily a car can be deadly. It was a well-timed example. Sadly, four others paid with their lives this month to send a message to new and future drivers. Hopefully their sacrifice will save others.

The timing of these accidents have also brought attention to the bill in the state Legislature that is seeking to change driving laws for the first time in about eight years. Legislators are considering raising the driving age as a result of these accidents. Read more about it on Boston.com here. Then vote in a poll on the issue available at Universal Hub.

IMHO, it is not so much age as inexperience. There's a reason why insurance companies place higher premiums on drivers with less experience. It doesn't matter whether they get their licenses at 16.5 or 21.5. Anyone with fewer than six years of driving experience, statistically, is more likely to have an accident, even if it is a minor fender-bender. So, when considering any changes to the minimum driving age, legislators would be wise to solicit testimony from insurers on the issue of inexperienced drivers. I would be willing to bet that the insurance companies have data on the likelihood of crashes of any severity by people who get their licenses at 16.5, 17, 17.5 and so on. If the difference between 16.5 and 17.5 is negligible, then there's no point in raising the age. It's mere a feel-good measure and therefore a bad law.

UPDATE: Read other blogger comments at Universal Hub here.


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