Finally, someone listens to me

OK, I probably had nothing to do with it, but the Globe's Mac Daniel reports that the Registry of Motor Vehicles yesterday unveiled a new section of its Web site specifically for driver training, and will be scrutinizing driving schools around the state to make sure they are actually teaching people how to drive. Well, they're a little late to the party, but its nice they came just the same.

The RMV's driver education center isn't anything really spectacular. There's a letter from the registrar of motor vehicles and links to pages that already existed on the site. This just creates a one-stop for parents, teens and other new drivers who wish to locate a driving school and to learn more about what to look for in a driving school, and what the requirements are for a junior operator's license.

It is a meritorious effort at making it easier for people, parents especially, to find information, but it doesn't break new ground, except in one area. According to Daniel's report, parents can now use the RMV Web site to check to see if a driving school has been cited by the RMV for any infractions the way, I presume, one can look up a doctor to see if she has had any disciplinary action against her. But in the grand scheme of things, I don't think such information is entirely relevant. It may be, but I don't see how just yet.

Actually, this almost seems like the Registry is tossing a bone to the dog of outrage that is swirling around the issue of junior operators lately. The Legislature earlier month killed a bill that would have raised the driving age to 17.5 years old, taking with it several other more important issues related to driver training. It is now being revived, fortunately, minus the age increase.

Among the changes proposed is a doubling of the actual amount of driving instruction from six to 12 hours, plus 40 hours of driving with parents (and presumably others legally allowed to teach a driver on a learner's permit). Sadly, there is no way for the parents to truly verify their young driver really drove those 40 hours. Like a child on the cusp of paying for adult movie tickets, it's on the parents' honor.

However, according to Daniel's story, parents would also have to sit in with their young driver for two hours of driver training at the driving school as well. This is a great provision. Everyone (including me) can always use a refresher on the rules of the road, and this is a great way to do it. A lot of people with children coming of age to drive have themselves been driving probably 25 to 40 years, and have either always had certain bad habits or have developed them over the years, and these two hours in a classroom might disabuse them of what they think is acceptable driving.

In all, it seems, this issue is heading in the right direction. As I posted before, it is not the age, but the experience. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect. A car is just as deadly as a gun (statistically cars are more deadly), and yet we have tougher rules for obtaining and maintaining a gun license than a driver's license.


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