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Driving Restrictions

24 January 2006

Teens are all up in arms here in the Corn and Soy state because the governor wants to put some restrictions on teen driving. He says distractions make young drivers dangerous drivers. They say he’s stopping them from enjoying the very things they like to do while driving.

Let’s review these onerous suggested new restrictions, shall we?

1) No cell phone use while driving. Personally, I think this should be a universal law. Unless you have a hands-free phone, my guess is that if you try to swerve and talk at the same time, you will not drop the phone (it’s ingrained in us not to just let go of the phone during a conversation), hence making it highly likely that you will crash, and potentially kill me or my kids as we innocently walk down the street.

2) Teen drivers may only have one passenger who’s not an adult or family member. Remember when you started to drive? Remember how it seemed like you had to be looking front and back, side and side, all the frickin’ time? That’s because it takes a while to do those things authomatically. And teens, who haven’t been driving as long, will probably get distracted by the three different conversations going on at the same time as they drive their 4 best friends, each of them on a cell phone with *their* other best friend, to someone else’s party; making it highly likely that they will crash, and potentially kill me or my kids as we innocently walk down the street.

3) Teen drivers also would be barred from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless an adult or family member is riding with them. Now, there are exceptions for getting home from a job (but wait — teens shouldn’t have jobs that let out after 11 p.m.!) or school functions. But aren’t teens always complaining about how tired they are? Why would I want someone out there driving at 2 a.m. when they’re tired, enhancing the likelihood that they will fall asleep at the wheel and crash?*

Driving is not a right, it is a privilege, and new drivers should not be let loose (at the age of 14 here in Iowa) to wreak havoc because they feel they have the right to do it.

To be fair, I also feel that older drivers should be reviewed more often than every 5 years, because I am tired of reading about mothers and their children being killed as they walk into the grocery store or the farmer’s market because some grandparent “mixed up” their accelerator and their brake pedal.

Really, we could all save ourselves alot of grief if we had a good public transportation system, but that’s just pie in the sky, right? Now pardon me while I deal with my liberal self freaking out because of these very conservative thoughts.

*Although I acknowledge that falling asleep at the wheel can happen at any time. Once I was out taking a walk with the two girls (when they were still in the double stroller). A man fell asleep at the wheel. His car left the main road, drove diagonally across the access road (on which we were were walking) and crashed into the tree in someone’s front yard. I only turned around when I heard the crash — the car ran silently behind us into the tree. If we had been 30 seconds slower, the car would have hit all three of us, and you wouldn’t be reading this post right now.

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