Transportation What can we do to prevent accidents like these? Eric Ringham April 27, 2010, 5:00 AM Apr 27, 2010 26 comments In the past week, 11 people have been killed in car crashes involving teenaged drivers. Today’s Question: What can we do to prevent accidents like these? ‹ Older What grand adventure do you dream about? Newer › What should be the role of local police in enforcing immigration law? Browse by category Education Health Economy Politics/Government Culture Religion/Ethics Science/Technology Transportation Race/Gender Environment/Energy Security International affairs Immigration Media Military About the blogger Eric Ringham firstname.lastname@example.org Georgia Wegner Parents shouldn’t give children cars the minute they get their drivers’ license. I understand why they do these days but that doesn’t make it right. We had to use the family car, which meant we couldn’t always go when and where we wanted. Our use was carefully monitored, and every time we used it we got “the car is not a toy” lecture. It seemed dumb at the time but it stuck. Gary F Not sure what it going to take except better parenting. The sixteen year old girl driving the Grand Am was driving illegally with too many people in the car and reports say there was a smell of alcohol. She was only 16. The SUV as part of the same crash had occupants with mulitple traffic violations including DWI’s. So, all the best intentioned laws didn’t prevent this accident, and more laws couldn’t have prevented it. Not sure what it’s going to take but better parenting. My son is 14 and this scares hell out of me. The zombie “Parents shouldn’t give children cars the minute they get their drivers’ license” +1 to that. Better parenting is the answer here. Don’t do stupid things and you won’t get hurt or hurt others. A car is a mobilized killing machine, and needs to be treated and respected as such. Much like a college student dying from alcohol poisoning is not a school’s fault, but rather the end argument that certain thought processes and beliefs were not instilled in the child appropriately. Dave 1. People should not be eligible for the PRIVILEGE of a driver’s license until they reach age 18 and have graduated from high school or passed the GED. 2. Harsh penalties for drinking and driving. If you get a DWI, you lose your PRIVILEGE to drive for LIFE. If you hurt or kill someone while DWI, you should face the death penalty. There is an utter lack of personal responsibilty in our society. Sue de Nim Why do we let kids reach the age of 16 without teaching them to think about how their actions might affect others? Careless teen drivers, predatory lending, gang banging, war-mongering, profiteering, sexual abuse– it’s all the same thing: childishly putting one’s own selfish gratification above the well-being of others. Amy I have to agree that it all comes down to parental responsibility. I my parents didn’t let me get my license until I was 16.5 because they wanted to be absolutely certain I knew what I was doing before I got it and they wanted me to drive through the winter on the permit. And even when I did get it, I was under a strict driving regime. Basically couldn’t drive outside of my city for 6 months. Finally got to take the family car to the MOA with my friends shortly before my 18th birthday. It was grilled into me that driving is a privilage that could be taken away at any point and it worked. I have never had a traffic violation and the only “accident” I have been in involved someone who clearly didn’t have the same driving responsibility I have backing into my parked car. 16 year olds generally do not have the ability to fully understand the consequences of the actions. I think 17 should be the new age for kids to get licensed and that people should have to drive on a permit for a year prior to getting their license regardless of age. Khatti I don’t know the details of this particular accident, so I can only speak on this subject generally. One disadvantage these kids have over their farm-kid ancestors is that they are not learning to drive at a younger age in a more forgiving environment than the metro area. I learned to drive by the time I was ten, and had four or five years of experience by the time I got my license. The lawnmowers and tractors I was driving were much slower than a car, but the tractors in particular were more involved than a car. It might sound insanely counter-intuitive to advise parents to strap their ten-years olds in to go-carts, or whatever is the modern equivilent of a go-cart, and send them scurrying around a track. But those ten years olds would learn the basics of driving in a more controlled environment than I-35. I can’t promise you that this experience will give your child good judgment, but it will give them experience, something they need to make judgments. Bill The only real way to prevent these types of accidents is to totaly ban the individual automobile, period. We all know that is an impossible figure to attain ever. There have been many studies in the past few years that point out the fact that the part of the brain that controls risk taking is not fully formed until the aveage age of 25. That is why when your between the ages of 2 and 25 you do a lot of dumb things. I find this whole “lack of proper parenting” line a little unfair. Who are we to judge these people based on what recently happend. Even the best of us can do uninteligent things every once in a while. Yet when it’s some elese we are quick to judge. Molly We don’t allow young people to vote until the age of 18, so why should we allow them to drive a vehicle capable of such destruction? I studied abroad in Australia, where you aren’t allowed to get your license until the age of 18. Because of this, many young people get used to taking public transportation and using alternate modes of transportation. I even met young people who didn’t bother to get their license once they reached age 18 because they didn’t find it necessary. We need to start looking at other modes of transportation anyway; we already know the vast array of social ills that come from the automobile. (not just death from accidents, but pollution, foreign oil dependence, obesity, etc) Steve Those of us without children do not have these worries! Dan F. For some reason, we in the United States have our priorities totally turned around. In much of Europe, the drinking age is, in most countries, 16 years old, while the legal age to drive is usually 18. With a younger drinking age, the “mystery” and novelty of drinking as a forbidden act is thrown out the window by the the time a person there becomes a legal adult at 18. Science shows that most people have about reached there ability for reasonable decision making at 18, and would most likely be then better drivers….and also more than likely more sober ones as well. So, my solution…drop the drinking age to 16 and raise the the driving age to 18. P.S. Parents wouldn’t have to worry about adding a high risk driver to their insurance premiums either and irresponsible decisions made by 18 year old drivers would be their own to pay the consequences for too!! Tom Number 1 issue. Cell phones in the car. Need to stop the texting/talking while driving. This would have the single biggest impact on accidents. IMO. Meredith Pfister I attriubte my good driving record to my mother – she was newly widowed when I was in high school and was really counting on me to drive myself to school and after school activities. She took it upon herself to teach me how to drive and let me PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, both on dirt roads (before I had my permit) and on freeways (after my permit). When I took driver’s education I was ready, confident, and experienced. When I finally got my license, my mom did not allow me passengers for a few months and I was not allowed to drive out of town until I was 18. This was all before the “graduated” system took place. That being said, I still remember feeling very invincible and driving too fast. I do feel that my experience and comfort behind the wheel was a big factor in why I was never in an accident. Lois Gard I belief the current Minnesota law regarding the regulation of number of passengers in the car is absolutely a necessity. Perhaps as a parent I was ahead of my time–or just the meanest parent alive in the 1970’s and 80’s. Our six kids were not allowed to have passengers in the car the first six months and they were not allowed to drive the first winter they had their license without a parent in the car. A certain stretch of local highway was completely off limits to them….too many accidents occured there. If I were parenting a teen driver today, there would be strict regulations about cell phones and cars. No matter what the law is, I think the burden of keeping our kids alive is parent involvement.—tough job. JP Rites of Passage I’ve done a lot of work with youth and teens and society and parents have provided progressively less and less rites of passage or progressive rituals to welcome children into adulthood. So kids are forced to fill in the gap and make up their own. For many teens getting the drivers license means you are a man or woman. And that’s one of the tamer ones that they’ve come up with, some other common ones are sex, getting involved in a pregnancy, using alcohol or drugs and so on. Parents and community members should provide more real, authentic, deep and grounded relationships and processes for showing kids how to be adults. This will reduce reckless behavior, because teens will not only know more about the risks of their behavior but they will understand more about just how loved, respected and cherished that they are, and that. more than anything should them to make better choices. Shane “WE” should do nothing. Unfortunately as long as we have automobiles stuff like this will happen. The responsability falls on the parents to KNOW WHERE YOUR KIDS ARE AT 2:30 IN THE MORNING! Bob Perhaps parents should be held more legally responsible for their childrens driving behavior. The parents are essentially turning their child lose on the public roadways with a lethal weapon. Maybe something similar to handgun laws? comments sent to MPR Comments texted to MPR: When I was 16, seven of my friends and I nearly died in a brutal SUV rollover. Even drivers my age take too many chances. Restrictive driving laws should increase oversight over teen drivers. They do it because they feel free, like no one is watching. -Kate, age 20, Madison, WI I understand that in Finland teenagers are required to take six years of training before they receive a full drivers license. A stronger focus on safety and car control in adverse conditions is an important difference from american drivers education. -Kyle, Minneapolis If I were a parent of a teen they would have to trade their cell phone for the keys whenever they drove. -RJ, Little Falls I grew up on the stretch of Hwy 95 where the Cambridge accident occurred. I did some bad teen driving there. At 16, I didn’t belong in the driver’s seat. -Rachel, Minneapolis Raise minimum age to 18. Check the statistics. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens. -Lu Daitzchman, Minnetonka I’m an 18 year old that got my license when i was 16 and I have to say not only was my driving absolutely reckless but also the driving of my friends the same age. Being older, not by much but still, I drive much more carefully and now see how easily my driving could have hurt or killed not only myself but others. 18 should be the age allowed to get a license. Brains are far more developed and people are wiser and more mature. -anonymous Gary F Yes, Khatti has a point. My son, 14, when he gets old enough, I will take him out to a big empty parking lot somewhere and practice slamming on the brakes, steering out of a fishtail, and other things to get a feel of the car. Then we do the same when it gets snowy and icy. We teach kids the rules of the road, we teach them to parallel park, and how to drive on city streets. We don’t teach the kids how to handle the car under adverse conditions. But it all comes down to parental responsiblity. Remember, our children are the generation were self esteem was given and not earned. We need to be tougher parents. Kathryn After I got my license, my father enrolled me in a one day intensive driving clinic that focused on putting young drivers in adverse driving conditions. These included the “slalom,” slick road/spinout practice, and rapid breaking. My favorite activity was the “lane toss,” where we would start out in a center lane which was blocked further down the track. At the last second before the block, one of two lights over the left and right lanes respectively would turn green, at which point we would immediately (and cleanly) have to swerve into the correct lane. Not only did this teach us to avoid an obstacle in our lane, it required us to use peripheral vision to assess our surroundings in order to find the best exit strategy. This kind of training under controlled circumstances greatly enhanced my comfortability in a vehicle and my ability to react quickly to common problems on the road. I firmly believe that all young drivers should be required to participate in a similar clinic. Intuitive reactions can only be learned by experience, and that experience shouldn’t come from a driver’s first time in a dangerous driving situation. Linda Thank God, I got my three kids through the teen driving age with no damage to them or our cars. I impressed upon them that there is no second chance. All they had to do was call and say they were staying at so and so’s house. No questions would be asked by me. There just was NO drinking and driving and they saw us never drink and drive. And always buckle up. Maybe we were just lucky, I don’t know but I think what parents do speaks louder than what parents say. pam “Better Parenting” is not a very useful strategy-to change teenager behavior- Its like saying ‘we need “better kids” or “better human beings”. People are what they are. Not everyone is or has strong, intentional, sober parents. as a culture we need better education, as well as carrots and sticks to change our atitude about drinking and driving. behavior. almost all the adults I know in MN drink and drive – regularly. culturally it is very acceptable to do this – most are just lucky and haven’t gotten caught – yet! but one in eight Minnesotans has a DWI. From parenting young kids I know from painful personal experience my kids will imitate my worst behaviour . Or if I do something right instead they imitate and aspire to the worst behavior of the culture we live in. In order to discourage teenagers to never drink and drive it needs to be unacceptable for any adult to behave this way. we need a strong message that “only losers drink and drive” the other factor is that 100% of freinds children who attempted driving at 16 had at minimum a minor accident resulting in vehicle damage during their first few months of driving. All this without drinking or using a phone while driving. I agree that drinking age should be lowered to 16 and driving age should be raised to 18 years old with addtional requirements that to receive a driver’s license in this state a person needs to be 18 and have need 1000 supervised hours behind the wheel a plus a HS diploma/ GED and driving New residents would also need to fufill these requirements or they could not have MN driver’s license . Kathy It really frosts me when people shrug their shoulders and say that “better parenting” is not the answer. Of course it’s the answer. I’m the mother of a teenage daughter. I would no more allow my child to be out of the house at 2:30 a.m. (or be somewhere where she COULD be out on the roads) than I would allow her to be playing with guns. Parents need to get some backbone as to how they handle their kids. But it has to start not at age 16 but at age 5. Too many parents “give in” and try to be “friends” with their kids at that stage, rather than demand a certain level of behavior. If you establish the boundaries for reasonable behavior at age 5, by the time they’re 15 or 16, they know to respect the rules and to take care of themselves and their friends. One final thing — if parents can’t set that standard, then they should be just as criminally liable for their child’s actions as the child is. DMOX A giant step forward would be to lower the drinking age. Teenagers disrespect moderate drinking because we teach them as a society that it’s something strictly for adults, and then we flaunt it in their faces by depicting it as a social lubricant, the only way to have a good time, and how adults manage stress. If we lowered the drinking age to 16 and made the driving age 18, we’d give teens a two year window to figure out their tolerance, demystify alcohol & have the opportunity to show them the reality of drinking. Also, stricter drunk driving laws. Do you know why we have such a dramatically higher rate of drunk driving in our county? Because in most western & European countries, the penalty for first time offenders is losing their license to drive for life. The second offense in stiff, long jail time. It is treated akin to murder, and the effect is that people are extremely careful to never drink when driving. It’s a start. It’s one idea. jane It is a broad range of issues. One is parenting the other is social inequities especially during a time of military conflict. Socially parents are duo income working and there is less and less contact with multi-aged groups which helps create proper role modeling. Teenagers won’t have the experience needed to prevent accidensts…. Our Society has forgotten what the word Accident means and they happen and then afterwards you want the answers…look inside they are there staring at you! I believe it is a classic symptom of the breaking down of the family and social groups…I believe a atotal overhauling of the education system and partental involvement in a new and different way creating a cohesive sense and a real community there by lessoning the peer pressure and need for escapism. I have for quite sometime believed that a school system be more of the center of a community and that children attend this facility from 6 weeks and attend until the student has finished their Associate Degree. The school ismore like a campass or a community hub. The students are actually involved in taking care of each other such as day care and buddy systems between the grades and everyday you begin with your core group. Each Student can progress at their speedwith the complete support of the community. There could be supervised volunteers for seniors whom would feel more productive. The Students would actually take shifts to work in the lunch room and the campass would have land to grow the food. Yoga and Ti Chi would fe offered as young as 2 and music and the arts would an early part of their routine….This creates real community and the sense of belonging to something bigger then themselves and brings out the best in them..a sense of security and self confidence Etc Etc Etc….simple common sense…useful education which encourages to grow beyond individual limitts because they are equals….in a familiar safe environment…a family! This school can be any size to meets the needs of the community! . David Poretti The state should require a prospective driver to have either graduated high school, been given an honorable discharge from the military or have reached the age of 21 before they can obtain a license to drive. This would provide an incentive for kids to stay in school and an opportunity to grow up a bit. The fact is that a teenager’s brain is not developed enough to perform thorough “What if?” analysis. This immaturity leads to reckless decision making – with ramifications beyond the ability of the teenage brain to comprehend. Combined with various other issues teenagers face – perceived immortality, over reaction to various events (getting dumped, making the team…) and the primal urge to be “popular” and so on. I would suggest that this is a time for tough love – and an opportunity to address two issues with one act. Driving a car is privilege, not a right – a life or death privilege that should require more than simply being 16 years of age to acquire.