The family members of teens killed in car crashes recently made a plea to Congress to pass the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection– orSTANDUP– act. The act would put uniform standards nation wide on drivers under the age of 18, increasing the rules that young drivers have to abide by.
Stricter teen driver laws, also known as graduated driver’s licenses, do a lot to reduce crashes and deaths among teens. The laws do work, and uniform driving standards would be an excellent addition to our nation, however, I think to truly stop the epidemic of teen driving deaths we have to go beyond telling teens “no”.
The real reason why car crashes account for 40 percent of teen deaths, in my opinion, is because of a lack of education on how to drive and over emphasis on what not to do. Just saying no doesn’t work with teens– don’t driver after 10 p.m., don’t drive with friends, don’t drive with your cell phone– can encourage kids to act out by doing what they aren’t supposed to do. The why do these no’s also aren’t fully enforced in current teen driving education. Just saying no isn’t the solution, putting a teen in a car in a controlled environment and showing them the why behind the no can go much further.
Germany has much stricter driver’s education and driving laws than the United States do. Not only do teens not get the opportunity to drive until they are 18, teens also go through much more intensive training (28 hours in the classroom and 35 hours behind the wheel compared to as little as no formal training in the United States) and a far more rigorous testing process. Germany teens know that driving is a privilege, and they are made aware of the consequences of treating it as anything else. As a result, teen driving deaths in Germany are far less than in the United States.
For teen driving deaths to drop in the United States we need a complete overhaul of the system, not just in the restrictions teen drivers face after they get their license, but in the training they receive before they are allowed to drive on our roads. We need to change the mindset of the American public when it comes to driving. It is a privilege and not a right, that paradigm shift within the American psyche will do a lot to curb teen driving deaths.