March 25, 2012

Well it finally happened

     It was inevitable but it seemed as if we were avoiding it.  Then it happened this Friday.  We finally have another driver in our home; Patrick got his license.
     Now begins the discussions of when can he drive, where can he drive, never mind WHAT will he drive.  We only have two cars at this time so I'm sure this is going to create many happy occasions of "why can't I take the car".
Personally I believe Patrick was extremely motivated to get his license this past week as Meg is old enough to get her permit so the race was on, at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Our school system no longer teaches drivers ed so it is up to us parents to teach our kids to drive.  On a funny note they can take a Driver's Education class online! Go figure.
     With having a licensed 18yr and a 15yr old days away from her learner's permit I was curious how different the driving requirements were around the country.  Well my head must have been in the sand on this one as I completely missed hearing anything about the STANDUP ACT. For those of you fellow ostriches:

The Safe Teen And Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act is federal legislation that would compel states to strengthen their laws for novice teen drivers, often called Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, the identifying bills are:
 S.528 and H.R.1515.  The following is the national standards this bill would like to set:
   • A 3-stage licensing process (learner’s permit and intermediate stage before unrestricted driver’s license);
• A prohibition on unsupervised nighttime driving during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages
 A passenger restriction during the learner’s permit and intermediate stage (no more than 1 non-familial passenger under the age of 21 unless a licensed driver over 21 years of age is in the vehicle) 
• A prohibition on non-emergency use of cell phones and other communication devices, including text messaging, during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages;
• Age 16 for issuance of learner’s permit and full licensure at age 18;
• Any other requirement adopted by the Secretary of Transportation, including learner’s permit holding period at least 6 months; intermediate stage at least 6 months; at least 30 hours behind-the-wheel, supervised driving by licensed driver 21 years of age or older; automatic delay of full licensure if permit holder commits an offense, such as DWI, misrepresentation of true age, reckless driving, unbelted driving, speeding, or other violations as determined by the Secretary.

Should this bill pass in the state of Florida that following would change:
  • Applicants must be 16 instead of 15 when applying for their learner's permit
  • would restrict the number of non-family passengers to 1 until driver is 21
  • restriction on use of cell-phones for non-emergency situations.
 You can go to Safe Road 4 Teens to see the changes in your state.
     Now I completely understand the idea of having national standards.  I truly do not think a 15 yr old from North Dakota with a license is prepared to drive on national highways.  At the same time I understand that in our heartland states many teens are driving farm equipment at young ages, while often those vehicles are primarily driven on private property there are times they need to be on public roads so some type of exception needs to be made. AND I don't think that experience translates to real road/traffic experience.  Currently 8 states issue permits at the age of 14. There are 7 states and the District of Columbia that have the minimum age set at 16.  The remaining 35 states issue permits at the age of either 15yrs. or 15yrs 6 months.
      I do like the idea of restricting non-family passengers but to the age of 21?? YEAH NO.  That goes along with my opinion on the drinking age~ We believe that 18, 19 and 20 year olds are mature enough to vote for a president, get married, enlist in our armed forces and possibly die for our country but not mature enough to drive with friends?  I think that age should be 18.  Prior to Patrick getting his license I found a couple of sites that recommend that a driver log 1,000 miles after receiving their license before they were allowed to have friends in the car with them. Now that sounds like a lot of miles but just 2 days after getting his license Patrick has logged close to 150 miles and we'll see how it goes.
     As far as restricting the use of cell phones why limit it to their permit and intermediate stage?  There are a number of states where it is already illegal to talk on the phone and drive.  And as far as texting...there is no reason whatsoever that anyone needs to text and drive period paragraph!!
     I am a little old fashioned in some of my thinking (big surprise) and beyond maybe to work where does a 16yr need to go by themselves?  Am I looking forward to having Patrick run errands and take Meg to different events ~ you betcha.  (Especially if he stays home next year one of his tasks will be driving her to school :).  Would I let a 16 year old drive the 70+ miles to their YouthQuake Live practice ~ not on your life!! Most certainly not with friends in the car. Unfortunately I think more often than not the idea of letting kids drive goes with the thought that it makes our lives easier if we don't have to drive them here and there.  Well my take on that is the complete opposite.  For the four years that Emily went to school out of county the rides home from school was where we had some of our greatest conversations.  Even now with driving Meg to and from school (by the way she's finally learned no talking in the am~I don't do mornings well :) on the afternoons when Michael picks her up  I feel as if I've missed out on something.  I enjoy picking Patrick up after ROTC or Tennis and hearing about his day one on one.  
     So we have a licensed driver in the house.  It is exciting to see how proud he is and how much he is looking forward to the freedom it brings.  Now all he needs is a car.... that's another blog. 
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