Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Driving... continued

Ok so here's the low down, according to the latest from the Canadian Press.

The laws will affect all drivers under 21 as well as new drivers of any age in their first year of driving - regardless of their level in the Graduated Licensing System. The new rules are as follows:

  1. Zero tolerance for drinking and driving. This means that as long as you are under 21 your blood-alcohol content has to be zero. So far I have not found anyone major opposition to this restriction - though some older drivers getting their license for the first time would like a little leeway - and I personally believe that it makes sense given the number of alcohol and drug related accidents there are every year involving teens.
  2. Zero tolerance for speeding. This is where things start to get dicey. Currently drivers of all ages and ranks receive fines and demerit points based on how far they are over the limit. The way things are looking right now in terms of this law, drivers under 21 caught speeding - regardless of the amount over the limit - will face a severe series of penalties, starting with a 30 day suspension. Young drivers are calling foul on this play and playing the age discrimination card. The argument is that anyone is capable of speeding and that your ability to react at high speeds is actually lessened as you get older. Yes, teens speed; but so do adults and some seniors. So why don't these rules extend to them?
  3. Drivers aged 16-19 can only have ONE teenage passenger. This one is wrong on so many levels. Yes, research has shown that have more teens in a vehicle can increase distraction and increase the likelihood of a accident. However, stop for a moment and consider the implications of this law, because they are far reaching. The most important place to begin is with car pooling. In this day and age car pooling is an important part of life, especially for rural dwellers. Car pooling is an important link for groups of young people living outside of town and in areas not serviced by buses, cabs or trains to travel together to school, to go shopping or to visit family or friends in other cities. With the advent of this law, an important tool is being torn away from those youth, forcing them to rely on older drivers who may not be as willing or able to drive such distances, or putting more cars on the road. What ever happened to going Green? Environmentalists should be just as outraged at this law as young drivers are! Furthermore, this is somewhat counterproductive for MADD, the organization pushing this bill, as it spells the death of designated drivers. Because the reality is that teens, following in the footsteps of adults over the years, will drink and party. That isn't going to change. This just leads to three possible scenarios:

    • there are going to be more designated drivers, a job that very few people really want,
    • there will be teens having their licenses suspended for doing the right thing in being a designated driver for their friends, or
    • there will be more teens on the road after drinking

    I really can see no other alternative. Which do you think teens are going to resort to? Certainly not the first option.

So, it is a nice thought. But I cannot seriously believe that it will really make a huge impact in lessening the number of driving-related teen fatalities. The truth is that laws cannot make better drivers. Better instruction and better enforcement of current laws, on the other hand, can make a huge difference. Because the truth is that as long as there are rules, people will break them. And if youth and children are learning from their parent, and their parents are breaking those rules, the vicious cycle will continue and the face of youth driving will not change.


Taking Driving to the Next Level

... of frustration.

A proposal is going before the Ontario Legeslature today which will add and change some driving laws in regards to young drivers. Whereas previous changes were applied to the graduated licencing system and the G-level of drivers, these new laws will affect drivers based on age; namely, those under the age of twenty one. The proposed changes include stiffer penalties for speeding, drinking and driving, as well as affecting the age and number of passengers young drivers can carry.

The exact limitations and penalties are somewhat disputed at the moment, with different news agencies reporting differences in who these laws will affect. However, the Minister of Transportation is set to make an announcement at 12:30, so we should find out more then.

Now, I'm not saying that this is all bad, but some of it - especially the part about the number of passengers young drivers can carry - will be plain frustrating depending on how it is acted out. Either way, we will know for sure soon.