Do teen drivers have enough preparation for driving on the road? That is the question posed by the San Diego Union Tribune. The article asks: “Should age really be the determining factor in who gets to drive and who doesn’t?”
The question comes as the result of a fatal car accident where a 17-year-old teen girl was killed. The driver of the car — also 17 and with a newly minted provisional license — was not supposed to be transporting persons under the age of 20 in her car without adult supervision, according to state law.
Should teen drivers be allowed on the road simply because they are old enough?
Though teen drivers only make up about 4 percent of the driving population, data suggests that they are responsible for 14 percent of the accidents out on the road. This is one of the reasons auto insurance for teenagers is so high — their age demographic, viewed by insurance providers, is more at risk for causing car accidents.
A nonprofit collective that’s funded by auto insurance companies recently released data that estimates that there has been a 20 percent drop in crashes due to laws preventing teen passengers from being driven by teenage motorists. California and other states have initiated this ban, but it is hard to enforce, especially when there are 77,400 teen drivers in San Diego County alone.
In 2009, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) issued a total of 241 citations for teen licensing law violations. For this most recent fatal accident, the driver may be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter for the wrongful death of her best friend.
“In many cases, teens are not ready for a license,” said a California Highway Patrol (CHP) and administrator of a young motorist safety program in North County. “Teenagers will take risks that the rest of us will not.”
Determining whether or not a teen is mature enough to handle an automobile rests with the parents. So what can you do to not only help you decide if your teen driver is ready for the open road, but also to make sure that they are safe when they do get behind the wheel?
- Stand your ground and delay licensing your teen driver if he or she isn’t mature enough to follow the laws of the road and handle an automobile by themselves.
- Make sure you are setting a good example and obeying all laws when you are in the driver’s seat.
- Flashy, sporty, and small are not the kind of car you want for your teen driver; make sure it is big, safe, and slow.
Ultimately, you decide when your teen is ready to become a driver. Make a good judgment call, because you are putting many people’s lives in jeopardy — including your child’s — by giving them access to the road when they are unprepared for the responsibility.
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