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Do you think there should be more restrictions on new drivers?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 15, 2007

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Photo of Angie Bacon

“Yes. I think 16 is pretty young, but that may be because I totaled three cars before I was 20.”

Photo of Chris Windler

“No. Sixteen is old enough as long as they’ve had some experience driving with a learner’s permit.”

Photo of Jaclyn Lippelmann

“I do. My 15-year-old sister died in an accident where a 16-year-old was driving. They’re just too young and don’t have the experience.”

Photo of Nicole Mears

“No. I think they should be able to drive whenever they want to as long as they’re obeying all the traffic laws. They should have the same rights as any other driver.”


bretherite 10 years, 5 months ago

I agree that the age should be raised. But there need to be stiffer penalites for those of any age who cause a wreck while on a cell phone. My18 year old has been involved in 2 wrecks both of which were not his fault. Both were caused by 35-40 year old drivers talking on cell phones.

labmonkey 10 years, 5 months ago

As long as you add restrictions, or at least testing for drivers over 70 (who can be just as dangerous), then I would consider more restrictions for new drivers. How will new drivers gain experience if you do not let them drive? I have heard that Kansas may even consider not letting drivers have a full license until they turn 18. What's more 18 year old entering the giant clusterBEEP of Lawrence with no experience...or one who's had 2-4 years experience driving? I also think that to earn a driver's license, one must show they can change a tire and perform simple, preventative maintaince on a vehicle such as checking fluids and tire pressure (noone should drive unless they can change a tire...period). Finally, cell phones should not be allowed while a vehicle is in operation and this especially for teenagers. I received my first license at 14, and drove 25 miles one way to school and work at 15 (it was this early experience though that makes me a better driver today, 15 years later). This was before cell phones took off thank goodness because I would probably be dead if cell phone stupidity were added to my teenager stupidity.

jonas 10 years, 5 months ago

No, there should be the proper amount of restrictions that should apply to all drivers and their focus given to the road. We already have a mechanism to restrict new drivers, it's called a Learner's Permit. Sorry, restrict all that you want, and you will still have people totaling cars, and auto fatalities. If the problem is experience, then it's not particular logical to believe that the answer is to curtail a driver's ability to accumulate experience. The only other way, as far as I can see, would then be to legislate driver behavior, and I'd certainly be interested in seeing how someone planned to successfully implement THAT.

KS 10 years, 5 months ago

Nicole - Driving is NOT a right. It is a privilege. I am amazed at the folks that think otherwise. Most of this falls back on parental controls. If you restrict cell phone use (regardless of age) you must restrict radios, noisy children, electric shavers, compact mirrors, reading newspapers while driving, etc. We already have a law on the books regarding this. It is called inattentive driving. Enforce it! I think I am in favor of raising the entry level up one full year, however. To me, it is abuse of a privilege. If you don't police yourselves, someone else will.

labmonkey 10 years, 5 months ago

I grow tired of hearing the argument that if we restrict cell phones, we must restrict radios, noisy children and such. Cell phones are the most egregious form of inattentive driving and I honestly believe that one is actually safer driving under the influence (huge fines and loss of license) than while on a cell phone (no enforcement and punishment it seems now)....especially teenagers. Anyone who does the other things you (KS) mention should also be heavily fined. Mentioning radios goes a bit too far, and a smack from the back of my dad's hand solved the noisy children problem when I was little.

As for teenagers and driving... you cannot gain experience if you take the ability to gain experience away. I would rather be on the road with a gaggle-full of teenagers than with cell-phone-talking-soccer-mom-driven-monstrosity SUV's, drivers over 70, and in town residents who own large, four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs (usually also holding a cell phone up to their ear). Most of the people on this tread forget the pure pleasure they got from driving when they first received their license. (Of course, I will probably eat those words when I have teenagers).

sgtwolverine 10 years, 5 months ago

"I honestly believe that one is actually safer driving under the influence (huge fines and loss of license) than while on a cell phone (no enforcement and punishment it seems now)"

That is remarkable hyperbole. I applaud your imagination.

Anyway, Michigan has graduated licensing; does Kansas have the same?

RKLOG 10 years, 5 months ago

I used to drive my big brother's Jeep Cherokee around the farm alone to check for downed fences after a big storm when I was 8 years old. I felt like I had responsibility up to my ears and handled it well. Maybe the driving age should be even younger than it currently is.

grimpeur 10 years, 5 months ago

Stricter licensing requirements for vehicles over 3,500 lbs., engines displacing more than 2.5L, or developing more than 250 hp. Sensible (i.e. challenging) driver's written exam, more intensive driving exam (when the applicant's biggest worry is the parallel parking segment, you know there's a problem).

nobody1793 10 years, 5 months ago

There are way too many really crappy 40 year old drivers out there too. I've avoided a number of near-accidents in my day, and as far as I can remember the other cars were always driven by "adults".

Trekkie 10 years, 5 months ago

If you restrict the 16 year olds, 5 to 10 years from now you'll restrict the 18 year olds because all the accidents happen with those people. Then 18 will be too young and we'll think maybe 21 when you're 'old enough to drink' not like many haven't been since 5 to 7 years before that.

The experience has to start some time. 16 is a respectable age to do so. Send a student to college with their first drivers license and first car? Yeah, no one will get hurt there.

No matter when you start you will have irresponsible kids that pile the car full of friends and take off and are more interested in what's going on in the car than around it. But you also will have the other 80% of them who take the responsibility as for what it is, and are careful. Just because every time one kid, or group of kids gets hurt/killed/damages property doesn't mean that we need to intervene as a municipality or state and ban all of them for driving.

You can be just as irresponsible at 18 as you are at 16. Plus it's nice to see the stereotype assigned to young men and driving is alive and well. When I got my license insurance was going to be $1400 a year for a 1971 pickup truck. Yet I have yet to have an accident and I'm 36 now. However my sister, who's insurance on the same vehicle was $500 a year totaled a car within three weeks of driving. There were countless incidents while at Lawrence High of girls destroying multiple vehicles. Believe one young lady held a record of 7 totaled vehicles.

Yet the guys insurance is sky high because we're a higher wreck. Yeah, I'm still bitter about that :P

If you really want to fix it and avoid more accidents and property damage build an infrastructure of public transit where kids have alternatives where they can be with their friends and goof around while still getting where they need to go. The T is a nice start, but you'd want light rail to KC to nice hotspot areas as well as a metro/subway type solution for KC itself to change things socially instead of just forcing it on them.

You penalize the young worker trying to save for college because they can't get to work because their parents work and there's no easy way for them to get there, etc. It's something a simple 'ban this' law won't fix, there is a larger community issue that needs to be addressed, not penalizing the kids.

Driving since I was 15, accident free.

Leprechaunking13 10 years, 5 months ago

So you take away their ability to gain experience? Right that fixes things right up. You gain experience through doing, not by sitting and waiting. I agree that if the age is upped to 18 or any age than your going to see the same statistics for that age group that you see for 16 year olds now. A lot of it does come from the parents too, as with many problems with the younger demographics these days. If parents were involved enough in the teenager learning the rules of the road instead of just sending their kid off with the keys and saying have fun maybe accident/auto-fatalities would go down. Of course this is Lawrence and knowing how residents of Lawrence drive regardless of age, the parents could be very involved with their child learning to drive which could explain a lot. Honestly I don't think anyone of any age group in Lawrence can say one drives any better than another age group because the drivers in this town are AWFUL!

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 5 months ago

To answer that question, all you have to do is drive around Lawrence when the students are back, and these kids are way over 16. They show poor judgement, they are rude and unsafe drivers. The car repair companies can't wait for the students to get back in the Fall, I wonder why?. Sure, older people can be dangerous too, but from impaired senses, not impaired judgement.

Leprechaunking13 10 years, 5 months ago

pywacket- did I say anything about a graduated program? no I don't believe that i did. However I did disagree that the age should be backed up any further. I think that 16 year olds are just as capable of handling a 2 ton piece of metal on the road as anyone it's all the means of teaching them. LIke I said maybe it's the parents in this town can't teach their young driver how to correctly maneuver the vehicle. Could you be one of them? How you describe this program sounds a lot like how the learners permit and a restricted license works just with a younger age group. You don't think that by making 18 year olds the youngest group of drivers that their statistics won't eventually resemble that of 16 year olds now? People don't just magically become good drivers they are taught and then learn through experience. Not to mention are you going to drive all the 16 and 17 year olds to school every morning? Or revamp the bussing systems all on your own so to make sure that everyone under 18 CAN get to school or are you expecting all those parents to take the extra 20 minutes to take their high schooler across town. Also you think it wise to send kids off to college with a year to no experience operating a vehicle? I mean are you serious that's just stupid, you want them exposed to alcohol and driving all at once?

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 5 months ago

How old is the first girl who commented, "I totaled 3 cars before I was twenty" as if she was proud of it? However old she is is too young to be driving. Intelligent people who get into one bad wreck generally are more careful drivers. I wonder if/when she'll learn.

Curtis Lange 10 years, 5 months ago

Raise the driving age to 18. Overhaul the driver's training programs in the United States to mirror that of Europe's. Then lower the drinking age to 16. Experience and education are the two things that make excellent driver's. With the programs in place, both are lacking.

Curtis Lange 10 years, 5 months ago

edit: With the programs in place TODAY, both experience and education are lacking.

lunacydetector 10 years, 5 months ago

Q. Do you think there should be more restrictions on new drivers?

A. Only for new KU students. In general, they drive like crap.

erod0723 10 years, 5 months ago

R_I, I agree whole heartedly. There's nothing better than the sound of a perfectly struck ball off an old wood club.

jonas 10 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, Babboy, Jonus is my evil robotic counterpart. Try not to get us confused.

jonas 10 years, 5 months ago

And I should add that I, too, believe that testing and restrictions for drivers should work on the other end of the scale as well as the kids end. Some older drivers are scary. Nothing against your dad. My grandpa is pretty terrifying, to be honest.

leemerrill 10 years, 5 months ago

Are you kidding me? You totaled 3 cars before you were 20??? Why do you still have a drivers license? That is nothing to be proud of at all...

sgtwolverine 10 years, 5 months ago

I had three accidents within two years, and Michigan suspended my license for a month. I, too, am wondering how the first respondent is still driving.

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