Monday, January 30, 2006

What to do About Teen Drivers?

The Register is abuzz today with the debate over whether to tighten regulations for drivers under 18. At the risk of losing even more of my libertarian bonefides, it seems to me that the proposed regulations are fairly reasonable - if somewhat difficult to enforce.

After moving to Iowa I was somewhat shocked to learn that student drivers could get their learner's permits at 14. In California - where I grew up - the you could not get your permit until the age of 15 and a half. Call me an old fogey, but 14 seems awfully young to be in command of 3,500 lbs of steel traveling at 60+ mph. There's a world of difference between the average 14 and 16 year old. Other than special permits for farm kids, I can't think of a reason for a 14 year old to be driving a car.

Like many other issues, this one revolves around our society's indecisiveness about the age of majority.

You can drive a car at 14.
You cannot be charged and tried as an adult until you're 18... that is of course unless we think that you should be tried as an adult then it's slammer time.
You get to vote at 18...
... but you can't buy a beer.
But... you can smoke cigarettes and wear your country's uniform and carry a weapon in a combat infantry squad.
Oh, and at 18 you're old enough to get married without parental consent.

It's nuts.

And don't think that our teens don't get how absolutely, hypocritically bonkers the system is.

Again, I don't think that the new regulations are unreasonable - except for the fact that they are virtually unenforceable by the police and highway patrol.

Parent's will have to take the lead here, to monitor, regulate and be ultimately responsible for their teenage childrens' driving habits.

Good luck with that.


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