Teen driving bill should be seriously considered

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2008

The issue: The Alabama House has passed a bill that would place more restrictions on teen driving.

Our position: These restrictions are reasonable and should be seriously considered.

The Alabama House has passed a bill that would require some 16-year-olds and some 17-year-old drivers to be off the road by 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends.

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Right now, the law is that young drivers with less than a year of experience must be off the road by midnight.Rep. Mac Gipson, R-Prattville, has introduced this bill that would also have drivers with a learner&8217;s permit or drivers with less than a year&8217;s experience have a licensed driver at least 21-years-old in the passenger&8217;s seat. Current law doesn&8217;t set an age limit.

The bill also prohibits new drivers from using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving.

All of these ideas are good ones. The Centers for Disease Control points out that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for 16-to-20 year-olds. At last count, that was nearly 5,500 deaths and 450,000 injuries each year.

A lot of the accidents are not drinking and driving or speeding. Leading causes of many of these accidents involving young drivers are inexperience, inadequate practice and poor judgment.

After all, what flips the magic switch and makes 16 the age for someone to get a license and get behind the wheel of a vehicle?

Experts recommend a minimum of 100 hours of supervised instruction behind the wheel in all kinds of weather and road conditions. Young people should begin driving in safe spots, such as an empty parking lot and move into congested areas.

Laws only go so far, however. Parents are key to putting safe drivers on the roads. Here&8217;s how:

Sure, it&8217;s inconvenient and the teen will pout.

But the life you save might be your child&8217;s.