July 26, 2005


Bill would target teen drivers: More restrictions will help safety, some say (Megan Tench, July 26, 2005, Boston Globe)

Amid another summer of young people dying in car crashes, some state lawmakers and officials are pushing for what they call the most comprehensive package yet of new restrictions and requirements aimed at young drivers.

The changes include requiring more practice behind the wheel, banning teenagers from using cellphones while driving, and getting parents more involved. The proposal would also give police more power to enforce restrictions already in place, such as barring 16- and 17-year-olds from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. and not allowing teens to have passengers under the age of 18 during their first six months with a license.

''Right now, the law's kind of a joke, because it's a secondary offense, and police can't pull you over for just that," said state Representative Bradford Hill, an Ipswich Republican and lead sponsor of the bill. ''We want to make it a primary offense in this bill, which means the police can pull you over. The first offense, you lose your license for 90 days; the second offense, six months; the third offense, you lose it for a year."

Just raise the driving age to 21.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 26, 2005 9:43 AM

That would mean their mothers would have to taxi them around for five more years. The lives you'd save on the roads you'd give back just from all the additional soccer-mom suicides.

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 26, 2005 10:11 AM

Meet in the middle - 18.

I live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, a group of which have turned 16 and are now driving. I don't feel safe walking the dog anymore.

Posted by: AWW at July 26, 2005 10:17 AM

Common sense must be applied in a lot of homes before a legislature will act -- and who really wants their legislature dictating such details? I made the mistake of allowing one of my 16 year olds drive -- the whole family ganged up on me -- never happened again.

Posted by: curt at July 26, 2005 10:38 AM

But at 17 they can drive a tank into battle? while their grandad with incipient Alzheimer's careens around the metro area looking for the bastard who hit him when he was a boy seventy years ago? We're back to wearing helmets in the livingroom for ultimate regulated safety.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 26, 2005 11:28 AM


Yes, once they fulfill their responsibilities they acquire privileges.

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2005 11:40 AM

Precisely, Palmcroft

Driving is by definition an ultra-hazardous activity. There is risk involved that is why insurance is legitimately required. Farmboys drive tractors on Wisconsin country roads when they are 11 or 12, without incident.

In areas where there is decent mass transit, like Manhattan and Brooklyn, maybe you can put ridiculous restrictions on youth driving. But in most of the nation the cost far outweighs whatever minimal benefit is received.


Under your plan how do 18-21 year olds get to school or work in most of the country? Or are they all supposed to be househusbands?

Posted by: bart at July 26, 2005 11:42 AM


So a 21-year old, or a 30-year old, who has not "fulfilled" his responsibilities should not drive?

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 26, 2005 11:56 AM


Posted by: oj at July 26, 2005 12:01 PM

"Under your plan how do 18-21 year olds get to school or work in most of the country?"

Illegal alien powered rickshaws. Its a win-win solution.

Posted by: jefferson park at July 26, 2005 1:04 PM

We had a good one in my town last week. Some kid in an SUV talking on a cell phone drove in front of a screaming hook-and-ladder, and he ain't gonna jump no more.

This is the old, old tension between freedom and responsibility, not unlike the gun-control debate. My vote is for freedom. Let us teach our kids how to drive and keep a supply of Darwin awards handy.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 26, 2005 1:34 PM

walk, they're young

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2005 3:07 PM

Spoken like someone who's never been out of a large metropolitan area with lots of public transportation and then had to get somewhere.

Posted by: bart at July 26, 2005 3:28 PM

spoken like someone who doesn't walk much.

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2005 3:39 PM

It has to be worth their while to be responsible drivers. This worked for our three. They had unrestricted use of the family cars, had a credit card for gas, and we paid the insurance. At one time when all the kids were still at home and all were driving, we had three VW Beetles of various ages and decrepitude, a station wagon and a little red two-seater.

There was only one proviso and that was inviolate: No drinking, no showing off, no trouble whatsoever with school or the police. First incident = equals the last day they would drive any of our cars.

Worked like a charm. Nothing could equal the thrill of driving that little red two-seater to school when you're 16 years old. I can report many outraged parents called to tell us off, but while their kids got into trouble with drinking and driving or speeding or whatever, our kids made an especial effort to stay on the good side of the law and more importantly, their father.

I'll be curious as to how they handle their own kids when they get to driving age.

Posted by: erp at July 26, 2005 4:01 PM

South Dakota, the state I grew up in, gives permits at 14.

Posted by: RC at July 26, 2005 4:10 PM

You have to be an elected official to be able to find another motorist to kill there.

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2005 4:14 PM




When I was in college, I worked for a title company as a 'floater'. That meant that I would go to different county searching vaults and fill in as needed on special projects. It required a car and a full set of Hagstrom maps of NJ Counties. Assuming I actually lived near enough to the office in New Brunswick to walk to work, how could I then go to Somerville, or Morristown or Trenton or Toms River or Newark or Jersey City without either having a car or a Star Trek teleporter?

Posted by: bart at July 26, 2005 4:14 PM

NJ has an excellent bus system.

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2005 4:22 PM

To get from the Garden State Plaza in Paramus to the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, in other words from the largest mall in the State to the second largest mall in the State, by bus, you have to go to New York City first and then out to Wayne.

To go to Newark from my home in Bergen County, I would have to take a bus to NYC and back out again(3hrs each way). There is no public transport to Toms River, or Morristown or Freehold from New Brunswick, other than going to NYC and back out again(at least 4 hours each way)

And this is in the nation's most densely populated state. If you were in Jacksonville Florida, let alone Door County Wisconsin or the UP, you'd be completely lost.

Posted by: bart at July 26, 2005 4:55 PM

You're a teenager--it's not like you have something better to do. I never had a problem getting around Jersey by foot, rail & bus.

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2005 4:59 PM

When I was in school, I did something called 'studying'. That is what people do in school when they have a real major or a double-major in physics and math like yours truly, and are not wasting their time and money in the liberal arts, drama, phys ed or any of those majors that end in 'Studies.'

How did you get from Essex County to Toms River by public transport and how long did it take you? My job required me to get to Toms River from Aberdeen or New Brunswick occasionally.

Posted by: bart at July 26, 2005 5:04 PM

No place better for studying than a bus or train.

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2005 7:02 PM

Geographic determinism seems to resurface in different forms every decade.

When I was an elementary school kid, we learned that the Ancient Greeks had an advantage over the benighted subsaharan Africans because the Ancient Greek world is largely arranged as a circular rim around a small body of water, and which was blessed with dozens upon dozens of viable ports. The entire continent of Africa has very few ports, and most of the good ones are on the Med. So, the Ancient Greeks got commerce and the Africans largely didn't. With commerce comes all sorts of cultural benefits that cascade upon each other, so on and so forth.

Later in the 90's I read Paul Kennedy's rise and fall of great powers, and part of his argument as to why Europe was that the high density of rivers, and very formidible mountain barriers, such as the pyrrenes and the alps prevented any one power from imposing its will on Europe and thereby stunting its growth. Also, there was something about the structure of Europe (which I forget) that caused its economy to focus more on bulk goods as opposed to the Eastern caravan trade in luxuries.

GGS seems like the latest incarnation of an old idea.

Posted by: AML at July 27, 2005 12:37 AM


Ever try to draw a graph, while riding a bus.

Posted by: bart at July 27, 2005 7:16 AM

Watched a Dartmouth student do one on her laptop.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2005 8:06 AM