Texas roads are hazardous places. That’s especially true for teenagers, who may lack the critical-thinking ability and experience necessary to avoid dangerous situations and make those on-the-fly judgments so essential for safe driving.
But, as reported by Houston Public Media, Texas State Representative James White — Republican representing District 19 — wants to make it easier for young people in the state to get a driver’s license.
He has filed a bill to revoke the current requirement, which states individuals under the age of 18 must pass a test administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety in order to receive a license.
White’s bill would allow a parent to administer the test to their child — as was the case before 2009. The lawmaker says he hopes his measure will reduce wait times at Department of Public Safety offices.
“They still have to take the test. The parent has to issue the test,” he told Houston Matters.
But we have to agree with Debbie Callahan of the Texas Professional Driver Education Association, who argues the proposed bill could make roads across the state more dangerous and increase traffic fatalities.
“Parents are not trained to be instructors, they’re not trained to know the road rules, road signs, and correct bad behavior,” she said.
Removing Safeguards for Teen Drivers Is a Bad Idea
Here are a few statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teens in the U.S.
- In 2016, while teens ages 15 to 19 represented just 6.5 percent of the U.S. population, they were responsible for 8.4 percent of the total cost of motor vehicle injuries ($13.6 billion).
- One-third of teens who text (and what teen doesn’t?) admit they have done so while driving. This increases their accident risk by an astounding 23 times.
- Teens tend to engage in unsafe behavior especially when driving with friends. The more kids in the car, the more likely they will be involved in a fatal crash.
- Seat belt use is lowest in this age group. At least 48% of 16- to 19-year-olds who died in passenger motor vehicle accidents in 2016 were not buckled in.
When driving, maturity and miles logged count. Teenagers are more likely than adults to make errors in judgment while on the road, and they just don’t have the experience to always navigate situations and hazards adeptly.
And there’s this: Today more than ever, distracted driving is a problem for people of all ages, due to the ubiquity of cell phones. In a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, researchers found that cell phone use while driving has increased 57% from 2014 to 2018. And according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), while distraction doubles the likelihood an experienced driver will be in an accident (or near-miss), for teens the danger jumps eight-fold.
We can’t prevent all motor vehicle crashes caused by young drivers. But we can make sure protocols remain in place to keep our roads as safe as possible. And with parents administering their own children’s driving tests, the oversight of a trained and non-partial party is eliminated.
If You’ve Been Injured in Texas, Call the Evans/Reilley Law Firm
Chip Evans and his associates have years of experience advocating for their clients and winning them the best possible outcomes for their cases. If you’ve been injured by an inexperienced driver, you may be entitled to compensation.
For a free consultation with the vehicle accident attorneys at The Evans Law Firm, give us a call or fill out our online form. We will give you the knowledgeable and compassionate counsel you deserve.