Thursday, February 07, 2008

More on Youth Rights

From Michael Males, stalwart defender of American adolescents, a much-respected scholar in the area of youth rights (Check out his NYTimes Op-Ed and his book "Kids and Guns"):

Let me suggest one matter--graduated driver licensing may not be a good example of the kind of merit-based or skill-based system for awarding teenagers greater rights. GDL laws incorporate lengthy, arbitrary age-based delays and restrictions, not skill-based tests of driving ability. The result (see attached) of our study published in the Journal of Safety Research is that the "lives saved" among 16-17 year-olds result simply from deterring younger teens from driving, not from making them better drivers, with the troubling result that they then learn to drive at 18 or 19 and suffer increased fatalities. Current GDLs award driving privileges based largely on waiting for a considerable time and attaining a certain age, not on demonstrated skills.
In contrast, a skill-based GDL, which I support (and I think would be consistent with the theme of your op-ed) would dispense with arbitrary age limits and delays (except perhaps to require a minimum age to enter the process, say, 15 or 16) and would instead award driving rights to novice drivers of all ages who demonstrated by rigorous testing an acceptable level of on-the-road driving competence and traffic-law knowledge. In other words, those procedures which inculcate skills and competence should be used to grant rights and licenses, not procedures which simply grant rights based on reaching a certain age.

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