Thursday, February 08, 2007

Illinois Driver's license program

Jesse White is proposing to change the driver's license in Illinois again. This time, thankfully, it is by requiring more practice time before getting a license and more driving time in Driver's Education along with a 9 month permit time instead of the current 3 month permit time.

On all of these I agree. Kids will drive better when they have additional training time. However, there are some other rules that I disagree with.
1. The number of passengers allowed in the car. When kids get their license they can now pick up their friends and take them to school. This is called carpooling any other time, but with "new" drivers, it's considered dangerous. I disagree. Having less cars on the road means less chances for accidents, keep it down to the minimum, allow kids to drive more of their friends to and from school. I think that the real purpose of this change is to prevent kids from piling in a car and driving around crazy late at night. Ok, no problem, if that's the case then make that the rule. Only 2 non family members after 8 PM. I have no problem with that, but anything else doesn't make sense. I was in band myself in school and when we would get back from a long day for a performance at 9 or 10 pm, it was just easier to pile 6 of us into one car and have the driver drop us all at home.

2. Curfew. The new curfew proposed is 10 PM on weeknights and 11 on Weekends for anyone under 18. I completely disagree here. I had many times that school activities didn't get me back before curfew. Plus as soon as I could work I did. I wouldn't get off of work until after these curfew times. This change is not a welcome change. Preventing kids from being able to work and become a part of this world by learning how to make it outisde of school is part of growing up.

3. Making parents responsible for their kids traffic problems. It bothers me that a 12 year old can be held accountable as an adult in murder charges, but speeding will require an adult to show up on court with their children. What is the standard? Either we treat them as adults or we don't. At 16 almost nobody is really mentally mature enough to be considered adult, but that holds for the 12 year olds that we have put in jail for life as well. With the other proposed changes a 16 year old will have to have 50 hours of driving with a parent plus the driver's education and they have taken and written and driven driving test. At that point they know the rules and the consequences. There should be no reason that the parent has to be forced to go to court. I think many would, and probably already do, just to support their children, but I don't like it as a low that forces them.

The problem with kids driving is that it's a new freedom and they will push it to it's limit before they understand what it really means for them, even I did this. The reason I like these changes is that 16 seems to be a good enough age to teach kids to drive. They are still at home and accountable to parents,. but they are also old enough to understand everything. I completely hate the idea of pushing back the minimum driving age to 18. There are too many jobs that would be lost from the 16-18 group. Plus all of the same issues with being a new driver will still happen, it's just that they wouldn't happen until 18. It doesn't matter what the minimum driving age is. The first few years there are going to be more accidents and problems, because you don't get experienced without doing it. The only reason a 30 year old is less likely to have an accident than a 16 year old is because of the 14 years of driving. Make the minimum age to drive 25 and at 30 the number of accidents will be up because they've only had 5 years experience. You can't get experience by not doing something.