Whose privilege is it?

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2003

While I agree with the idea of a graduated driver's license (GDL) program, I disagree that its provisions should encompass only first-time license holders. The longer people have their license and drive, the more comfortable they get behind the wheel, and the more relaxed they get about certain rules of the road. Additionally, as people age, their driving skills diminish, sometimes to a point they are just as unsafe as first-time drivers. The National Safety Council has identified the age groups most affected by automobile accidents are 15-24 and 75-plus. Teenage drivers aren't the only drivers the Legislature should be targeting with this program.

If all drivers were required to take a driving test at every license renewal, this would keep bad habits in check. A lot of good drivers would be required to take a driving test just to keep their license, but it would be their chance to show that they are, in fact, good drivers. Those drivers who have forgotten what "yield" means or that turn signals are actually required by law will have to improve their skills or give up their license until they do.

A GDL program is a good idea, but targeting one group of drivers is an incomplete implementation. Why should a good, new driver have to wait a year to get an unrestricted license when a bad, older driver can get their license renewed by mail? If you're going to apply a program like this, why go for a 24 percent or 27 percent decline in accidents when you can go for more?

Cindy Cashen, firm supporter and requestor of HB 213, states, "a number of our kids haven't been taught driving is a privilege, not a right." I'd like to add that a number of adults have simply forgotten that driving is a privilege, not a right.

Jason Soza

Juneau



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