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Don’t raise the age, let us engage

If a new law is passed, it may take teens a lot longer to get past the provisional license in California

If a new law is passed, it may take teens a lot longer to get past the provisional license in California

Crystal Vang, Feature Editor

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On January 16, 2017, ABC30 News  reported that a new California state law was suggested. The law aims to extend the required age for a provisional license to 21, which is a significant difference from the current age of 18. This new law was suggested after the death of a 17-year old girl, Sierra Valenzuela, in May. She was killed in the back seat of a car after a teenage driver crashed into a guide wire, two trees, and a fence.

 

The suggestion of this law was created to counter against the rising deaths caused by teenage car crashes, however, this law can be very controversial. For instance, this law affects teenagers who work or play a significant role in taking care of family members. The suggested law makes it harder for teens who are able to drive, as it could potentially prohibit them from getting to work, from being able to get to school, carpool, or generally being able to get to anywhere else. Not only that, but there are many cases where working adolescents whose families are financially challenged are one of the main providers for income. Especially to those who drive, or those who are in the process of learning how to drive.

 

Furthermore, this law is difficult to enforce. If it were passed, then what would happen to those who already have provisional licenses? Would they be able to keep them, or would they be revoked? If they were revoked, would they have to retake the test all over again when they reach the new age? It’s also possible that it could increase the raise of teenage car crashes rather than decrease them. This was the case for the Prohibition Act did back in the 1920s, when the US released the 18th amendment that outlawed the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol. Not only did the Prohibition Act increase alcohol consumption, it increased gang activity and illegal crime that had to do with alcoholic beverages. Of course driving and alcohol consumption are not parts of the same spectrum, per se, but it is likely that when push comes to shove, teens will continue to ignore the law and still drive their friends. At least until they get caught.
Rather than creating a new law to counteract against teen car crash rates, a better way to fight against this issue is to introduce an affordable driver’s training program. While most schools provide driver’s education classes, many teenagers do not have the money to afford a $500-$700 driver’s training session. These sessions teach how to properly learn to drive with hands-on experience, which allows young drivers to engage with the road as well as the car. If we want to lower teen car crash rates, the best way to do so is to help and educate our youth about the dangers of the road and how best to avoid them. Don’t raise the age, let them engage.

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