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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.”

Comments

grimpeur 6 years, 7 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).

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RKLOG 6 years, 7 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.

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

leprechaun~ nice job of sidestepping several pertinent points while quibbling over semantics. No, "you" didn't say anything about a graduated system (and I didn't claim that you did) but that's what people were talking about--they were NOT saying that kids should lose the chance to gain experience until they are 18. Added restrictions for young drivers (the subject of this OTS question) pretty much amounts to a graduated system--whether you personally mention the term or not.

If you go back and reread my comments, you'd also see that I recommended parent-supervised and work-or-school-only driving. To explain this for you--this means that they could go on their own to work or school ONLY. Everywhere else they went would require a parent in the car with them. This would cut down on joyriding with friends--a huge source of distraction. I fail to see how this recommendation should require me to personally ferry all local kids to school or revamp the bus service. What are you smoking? The only "driving experience" they will be missing out on are the drunken (or sober but giddy) jaunts with friends or the party hopping that goes on with the unrestricted licenses. They could still get plenty of productive experience. And if parents' insurance rates skyrocketed whenever they allowed restricted teens to violate new rules (and those teens got caught), parents would be more likely to insist on compliance.

As to your assertion that further restrictions would adjust the worst driving ages upward, I do not think this is the case in communities in which such programs have been enacted. For one thing, they continue to mature each year; for another thing, if the penalties for violations are stepped up (which is another recommended strategy), idiots would not get the chance to total three cars before they were twenty--they'd have their driving privileges revoked after the first one.

Nobody is suggesting sending kids off to college with no experience. Just with more structured experience.

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sgtwolverine 6 years, 7 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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leemerrill 6 years, 7 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...

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jonas 6 years, 7 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.

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jonas 6 years, 7 months ago

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

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erod0723 6 years, 7 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.

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solsken66 6 years, 7 months ago

Older drivers, 70 and over, should also have to take a written and driving test annually before being issued a driver's license. My grandpa used to drive in the center of a two lane highway when I was young riding in the back seat. It was a very scary ride indeed. Grandma was always redirecting him to get in the proper lane.

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lunacydetector 6 years, 7 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.

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Curtis Lange 6 years, 7 months ago

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

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Curtis Lange 6 years, 7 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.

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kneejerkreaction 6 years, 7 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.

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Leprechaunking13 6 years, 7 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?

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kneejerkreaction 6 years, 7 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.

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

leprechaun~ Uh, no.....Taking away their ability to gain experience is not quite how a graduated privilege program should work. Obviously, that would be counterproductive.

Actually, a good graduated program would reflect a lot of the comments you made later in your post. It would mean that they would spend more of their "gaining experience" time supervised and restricted as to where and when they get to drive. It would lean on parents to be more involved. I think it would mean that by the time they were 18--and gained an unrestricted license--they would have had enough parent-supervised and work- or school-only driving experience that they would already have a lot of good driving habits ingrained.

And, again, drivers of all ages are often very bad--but you need to look to the statistics to see whose bad driving is leading to deaths (their own and others') or otherwise severe accidents. There is a huge skew to the teen demographic. Adopting graduated-privilege policy might help save some of those lives.

Aside from that, I would like to see mandatory public flogging for anyone who does not use a turn signal, who runs red lights (worse prob. in Lawrence than anywhere else I know), who selfishly makes traffic slow for them by pulling out from a parking lot or street w/o waiting for a reasonable opening, who rides the *** of someone who is going the speed limit, or who (conversely) goes way below the speed limit, holding up a whole line of cars (pull over and let them pass if you're out for a Sunday drive).

Oh--and there's a special place in hell for those who cannot or will not learn what to do at a 4-way stop. Oddly, the worst ones are not those who zip through out of turn, but those who think they're doing anyone a favor by "ceding" their turn to someone who arrived later--sitting there waving their hand (which others often can't see due to glare) in a silly "No--after YOU" gesture, instead of just GOING when they're supposed to. You are not going to win Politeness Lady of the Year Award for this stunt--you're just holding up traffic.

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Leprechaunking13 6 years, 7 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!

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BABBOY 6 years, 7 months ago

Opps before I go it labmonkey that disced my poor old 70 year dad. Sorry Jonus. I off to the pre-game!

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BABBOY 6 years, 7 months ago

Man:

KS are you one of those Click or ticket guys? Police this!!!!

The Lawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Pass a rule or regulation and beat down what you do not like.

Yeah, if I were King, I would up the driving limit to 18 and have restricted license 16-18. It is true that kids drive like crap. Someone please tell them to stop tailgating the big angry bald guy. Also, since I am King, driving laws would not apply to me.

Jonus, damn man, I think you disced my dad with that 70 years old comment.

Screw it, I am going to the pre-game party!!!!

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely. KS is contemplating and, IMO, needs graduated licensing. Anyone who wants to argue special attention to this age group on the grounds that there are a lot of "really crappy 40-something" drivers needs to take a good hard look at the statistics. Yes--I am irritated constantly by drivers of all age groups, too, and agree that there is plenty of room for improvement in ALL drivers, but if you look at serious-injury and fatality accidents, it's the teens who really need added attention. (Not to mention the extreme elderly--but that's another can of worms.)

I think what it might boil down to is that all age groups do dumb things but for the teen demographic, you typically have to factor in (1) lack of experience, which would turn a bad decision into a bad accident and (2) high speed, which can turn a minor accident into a fatality accident. More mature drivers can often correct a mistake before it turns into an accident, in part because they typically are NOT going at a high rate of speed.

A sensible graduated-licensing program could ensure that teens are forced (under Mom or Dad's watchful eye, for example) to develop better driving habits before being turned loose. Once habits (such as putting on the seatbelt w/o even thinking about it) are ingrained, people are likely to keep them. I think the graduated programs also provide for revoking driving privileges at any stage if the teen messes up, which would be added incentive to drive carefully. They seem more worried about losing the car keys than losing their lives at that age, since they can't really grasp their mortality unless a close friend dies.

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Napoleon_Dynomite 6 years, 7 months ago

R I I've still got wood!

...every day, I've got wood

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Trekkie 6 years, 7 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.

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nobody1793 6 years, 7 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".

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sgtwolverine 6 years, 7 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?

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes. Of course. I think any driver over 360cc should be outlawed. I miss the days of wood drivers. Bring back the wood.

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labmonkey 6 years, 7 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).

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KS 6 years, 7 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.

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bretherite 6 years, 7 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.

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jonas 6 years, 7 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.

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labmonkey 6 years, 7 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 dangerous...an 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.

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