There's a reason for graduated licenses

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, December 03, 2004

When you published the letter from MacKenzie Allison (Nov. 1), you probably were not aware of her qualification for objecting to the graduated driver's license. As my driving student (on the simulator at Juneau-Douglas High School) this past summer, she amazed me with her skill and intelligence. I needed to tell her something only once, and she remembered it henceforth. Among a group of fine students, she was supreme.

In her letter to you, MacKenzie made the point that the granting of a driver's license by DMV attests to the recipient's ability to drive with skill, knowledge of traffic laws, and minimal danger to himself and others on the road. So why do we have this pesky graduated driver's license? The answer is that too few drivers are like MacKenzie, who sits behind the wheel of a car with as mature an attitude toward her responsibility as a driver as I've ever seen among drivers of any age.

Many of her schoolmates come to me, eager to sit behind the wheel of the simulator, which they consider to be a video game. "How fast can it go?" "Can I crash it?" These are common questions among her classmates, who are the reason that automobile-insurance premiums for their age group are high. To them, if the accelerator can go all the way to the floorboard, then that's where it should be. Turn signals are unnecessary, seat belts are a nuisance, and speed limits are for sissies.

MacKenzie is aware that 0.08 grams of alcohol per liter of blood, the legal limit in Alaska, increases the driver's likelihood of a crash tenfold. She knows that an automobile is not a toy, but a dangerous piece of machinery. She respects both its power and vulnerability and is aware of her own fragility. If only everyone drove with her attitude. And if wishes were horses ... .

John B. d'Armand

Auke Bay

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