Home > Uncategorized > Teen Drivers, Fact and Fiction

Teen Drivers, Fact and Fiction

I don’t believe it has come up before in previous posts, but I own a drivers education school and I’m licensed to teach in the classroom as well as in the car. Given that fact, I think it’s safe to say that I am a sort of expert, so forgive me if you detect an “appeal to authority”, I am making my points partly based on my own experiences. The rest of my points are going to be based on statistics and some economics also. (lets just keep in mind that economics doesn’t have to have anything to do with money, it is the study of value, as well as all the human behaviors resulting from stimuli. e.g. incentives.)

Part 1 – My Experiences/Observations

I can tell which students are going to be public menaces as soon as they say hello. So far, I have been right on the money. I have no idea why this is so, but it’s pretty handy. I know as well as anyone and far more than most, that teens are broken up into good drivers and bad drivers, it’s a hard thing to quantify, but that is the way it is. It is also true that teens have more, and more serious, accidents, than we old folks do.

Why is that so? I have a few ideas. First, they are new drivers, and as you might suppose, they don’t know what the hell they are doing in 9 cases out of 10. This notion that teens are more accident prone simply because they are teenagers, is pure, unfettered, hogwash. The stats that you always see about teens dying in crashes, includes instances where the teen was not driving. They are passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and so forth. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of cases where a teen is driving and they are at fault in an accident, I just don’t like the pure dishonesty.

Another interesting this is that males don’t have higher insurance rates because they get in more crashes than females. The cost is higher for males because girls suck at driving! Alright, so I made that last bit up, but it does bring me to another of my personal observations that explains the different insurance rates. We men simply drive more, in general, men love driving around far more than women. Interestingly enough, although men are the minority gender in the US, they make up 60% of the miles driven, while the majority, females, make up 40%. Obviously the result is that men get in more accidents, whether they are better or worse than women, because they have more opportunity for car on car carnage to ensue.

For reasons unknown, women just hate to drive and men just love to do so.

Part 2 – Statistics

I alluded to this point earlier. The organizations that commission these studies, like everyone and everything else, have a particular viewpoint. I bet if we tried we would find that nuclear power proponents and opponents, all start with the same numbers, and bend them to their will.

The example I gave, about the doctored fatality numbers, are only the tip of the iceberg, and that is precisely why I don’t include many when I am teaching. For example, a good stat is that you have a 1 in 5 chance of being in an accident in any given year. Pretty easy to figure that out, even for adults can probably manage it. You only need two numbers, the number of drivers and the number of accidents. See how easy? Can’t really skew that to a certain viewpoint.

There are lots of others that are actually accurate, but a great deal of bullshit is out there as well.

Part 3 – Economics

Now the real issues pop up. Currently, Maine issues “provisional” or “graduated” license’s to young drivers, meaning that for the period of 2 years from the issuance date, any moving violations result in the resetting of the 2 year period, plus the license will be suspended, with each successive violation resulting in longer and longer suspensions.

That isn’t such a bad idea I suppose, but the other restrictions are where it gets to be a little sticky. At the moment, when a minor gets their license, they can’t drive with anyone other than immediate family in the car (unless a licensed driver over age 20 is sitting in the front passengers seat, than they can drive anyone) for 6 months. Soon it will be 9 months. But here is the problem, you don’t need a drivers license to drive a car! The state can suspend what they like and they can add all kinds of restrictions, but unless they run a stop sign or they are speeding, no one will ever know.

The perceived benefits/value of ignoring the restrictions, combined with a very low chance of getting caught, even if you are sitting next to a cop at a traffic light, means that they might just as well have no restrictions. Obviously, the state could drastically increase the penalties for operating outside their restrictions, and that might work, or it might backfire, people will just not bother to get their license and drive anyway.

We know that is true, because estimates range from 10 to 20 million unlicensed drivers in the US alone. Even worse, an average of 1 in every 5 accidents involves a driver who is unlicensed. The incentive system is so perverse, this problem and many others are only getting worse with every road block states put up in front of people wishing to get a license, ostensibly with the goal of reducing accidents.

To wrap it up, it’s true that raising the age for getting a drivers license, saves teenage lives. Unfortunately, there is almost no discernible difference in the total number of accidents and fatalities. Reckless morons are still going to be reckless morons if they have to wait until they are 18 or older to get a license, and instead of 16 and 17 years old’s crashing, it’s 18, 19 and 20 year old’s picking up the slack. I’m not interested in saving teen lives, only in saving lives as a whole. The problem is not going to be solved by upping the driving age, restricting when, where and with whom they can drive, or anything other politically catchy nonsense.

Something needs to be done with what drivers are taught, and how they are taught. Kicking the can down the road is not a solution, if anything its a bigger problem. In New York, you can’t get a license until age 18, in Maine the age is 16. Guess what? That 18 year old has 2 years less experience driving than the 16 year old does!

Less bullshit, more solutions.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. 2012/04/28 at 23:23

    Do you know how long the first suspension is for a driver who gets caught during the restricted period? It was for 60 days when it mattered for me (and the restriction period only last 6 months), but I stopped following it when my time was up. (I came close to losing it, but I was fortunate to get a cop who understood that my grandmother’s severely out-of-date inspection sticker wasn’t really my fault.)

    It seems counter-productive to an extent. A driver with a suspended license doesn’t know how to drive better after X number of days of taking the bus than he did before his suspension. Moreover, it has its economic drawbacks. One friend of mine had to cut back his work hours because he had no way of getting there without a vehicle some days.

  2. 2012/04/29 at 21:15

    I managed to make this comment buy reaming a spam comment and replacing the text in it. This method may work out in the short term, at least on my blog. Eh. Goddamned WordPress.

    30 days for the first, 60 for the second and 90 for the third. It can be longer and you should note that this is in excess of any penalty imposed by the courts. If the judge orders a 15 day suspension for that first moving violation, that would be atop the 30 day administrative suspension.

    I forgot to mention it, but they also can’t drive for the first 6 months between the hours of midnight and 5 AM. Kind of stupid because it doesn’t apply if the teen is traveling interstate. Just as with cities that have curfews, the correct response if pulled over for driving during those hours is, “I am going to New Hampshire”. That works because the states can’t regulate interstate commerce.

    Also, even if a state doesn’t issue licenses to drivers under 18 (for example), a 16 year old from Maine can drive there with a Maine license. In that case the issue is that states must recognize the official acts of other states, which among other things, includes drivers licenses. That is why I support the bill in congress that would force states to honor concealed weapons permits issued by other states, if they also issue permits. It’s no different than drivers licenses.

    (Thought I would include the spam comments text for your reading enjoyment) “Elvira an individual shouln’t be talking because your part has glitches. The vertisements in shame really should be capitalized or maybe did anyone not be aware in institution? Did an individual even check out school? Nice but not really as expected. I just simply found your website via Posting Secret. So far I love it. I l8rs to if pets find out when to help cheer anyone up, I use a 10 yr old woman’s tabby kitty named Minnie, who had been named these kinds of because she was so tiny when we finally picked the woman’s up on the farm in which she was born. She is a loyal, sweet girl who’s very third party. But she is very loving. She uses my 07 year son around similar to a puppy plus since she came to us she sleeps on his pillow beside his head as if to shield him. She informs us good morning every working day, even if other day the lady ignores all of us. She is usually our princess or queen and adds much love to our family! A real blessing.”

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