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.


1 comment:

  1. In a phone conversation with Dalton McGuinty, Tim Mulcahy remarked that 'with these new laws, Ontario will have the safest roads in the world.' But if you are between the ages of 16 and 21, they will also be among the most restrictive.

    My friend, CSR expert storyteller Billie Mintz, an innovator in new media production is currently filming an investigative documentary that scrutinizes the distribution of the responsible drinking message. He wants to hear what you think about McGuinty's proposed new laws? Sound off here on the Toronto Chat Forums.

    The Message in a Bottle is a 12 part web video series which examines the responsibility everyone shares regarding the advertising, sales, purchase and consumption of alcohol.

    The world is changing; Ontario is becoming a safer place, but are we sacrificing freedom for safety?