Toughen teen driving laws - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Toughen teen driving laws

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Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2003 12:21 am | Updated: 2:00 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The East Valley recently has seen a significant amount of tragedy involving teens behind the wheel: In Scottsdale alone, four teens have died in such accidents in only eight weeks. Laws should be toughened to address what often leads to such horrible losses of life: Inexperienced teens who take too many risks.

Arizona since 2000 has had graduated driver’s licenses for young drivers. Drivers younger than 18 must undergo a mandatory “learner’s permit” period of five months (in the past, those 16 and over were allowed to virtually skip this period), during which they are not to drive without being accompanied by a licensed adult driver. Those who then receive licenses are allowed to attend defensive driving school after conviction of a first moving violation, but face having their licenses revoked until they are 18 on a second offense. But the law should make things even tougher.

One moving violation should be enough for restricting or even withholding driving privileges until age 18. That would send a stern message that unsafe driving carries swift, firm consequences.

An Arizona Senate bill makes a praiseworthy effort to regulate teen driving; unfortunately SB1055’s virtual ban on teen driving during certain wee hours does not address deaths and injuries that occur when teens are driving at other times. It is more of an additional curfew law than it is one aimed at safer roadways.

Another part of the measure prohibiting teen drivers from having more passengers than there are seatbelts in the vehicle makes more sense.

Most important, make the driving privilege between ages 16 and 18 provisional and quickly restricted or yanked through bad driving, with a full license to be earned only through safe driving.

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