Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Putting the brake on young drivers
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty wants to curb young driving offenses by changing the law to drivers under 21 must have nothing above a blood alcohol level of zero, drivers 16-19 can't drive anywhere with more than one passenger also 19 or under, and will face up to a 30-day suspension of their license for speeding. The premier cites protecting older children as his reasoning behind these "modest restrictions" and says as a father, he's prepared to make his kids suffer for their safety.
This is all fine and dandy if you want a seriously pissed off section of the population (some of who can vote, Mr. McGuinty, so watch out), who will either go ahead and break the law anyway, or increase green house gas emissions by not carpooling. But what happens when they go drinking? Not everyone is going to be the designated driver, and only so many people can sleep on your floor. Call me crazy, but I think predictions of an increase in drunk driving are spot on if these rules come into play.
These laws will also come on top of the extra restrictions already placed on new drivers in Ontario, which has a graduated license system. Drivers start out with a G1, which requires drivers to maintain a blood alcohol level of zero, and to always drive with a licensed driver who has at least four years driving experience (a permit in Newfoundland and Labrador). After a year and passing the G1 test, drivers move onto G2, where you still have to maintain a blood alcohol level of zero, but you can drive with anyone, provided there's only as many passengers as seat belts (isn't that the law for everyone? Shouldn't it be?), and you still have to pass a drivers test at the end of 12 months.
There are already four Facebook groups dedicated to stopping these new rules before they become laws, with over 15,000 members already. While I agree with maintaining a zero per cent alcohol level for new drivers, overall babying of new drivers will not provide them with the experience and skills required to become good drivers. Just because teenagers are young does not make them any less competent than a 30-something learning to drive, and bestowing extra restrictions on them will leave Mr. McGuinty with yet another segment of the population extremely peeved about cars.
** Photo courtesy of djuggler.