Blue Prints

TAKING SIDES: Are teen driving laws too restrictive?

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Prohibitive and complex laws are unnecessary

As we approach our later years in high school and begin the path to adulthood, the day our parents

Bella Lombardo

dread is becoming inevitable. That moment when we teenagers pass our license test, we gain independence, a whole new responsibility, and a long list of strict rules.
Perhaps the most controversial and widely talked about rule is the restrictions on passengers for a newly licensed driver. The driver must drive completely alone unless accompanied by a parent/legal guardian for the first six months of driving. It isn’t until six months after the license is issued that a 16 or 17 year old driver can begin to transport family members.
Six months may not seem like a long time, but for parents seeking help in transporting siblings to various places, it seems like an eternity. The phrase “transport family members,” however, is extremely deceiving. The family member must be part of the driver’s immediate family, which means brothers, sisters, and parents/legal guardians only; this excludes cousins or other distantly related family members.
It isn’t until after an entire year of carrying a license that a driver can transport friends or other people who are not related to them. The year begins the day the physical copy of the license is issued, so if you were unable to make it to the DMV until a month after passing the driving test, that is an extra month that you must wait to transport people. Until the license is received, the driver is still considered a “student driver”.
Even after the year has passed, there are still more restrictions on the driver regarding passengers. If the license holder is 16 years old, they are only permitted to transport a singular passenger at a time until they become 17.
Some may argue that these rules are put in place to make the roads a safer place and the more restrictions put on new drivers, the better. However, these restrictions do not necessarily mean ensured safety and it is surely not beneficial to the environment. When teens travel places, more often than not they are going somewhere with multiple people. It is always said that carpooling is more efficient and safer for the environment. In fact, by carpooling just twice a week, 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gases can be kept out of the air each year, according to the South Florida Commuter Services. With the laws being as strict as they are, teens are not legally allowed to carpool which feeds into the destruction of the Earth. If groups of people are all traveling to the same place separately, this is also creating much more road congestion and allowing for a higher possibility of accidents to occur.
Another main rule of the road is teenage driving curfew. Until a driver turns 18 years of age, they must not be on the road from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. The only exceptions are for school, religion, medical emergencies, or employment. For drivers who are 16 years old, this means that they must wait two whole years until they are legally allowed to be on the road late at night, whether it be to get a late night snack from McDonald’s, or just to drive home from a friend’s house or social event.
This means having to leave fun events early on weekends just to make sure there is enough time to travel home before the curfew. This rule also affects education related happenings as well, such as late night study groups or working on projects with others. If night time is the only convenient time for you and your groupmates, you better make sure you get it all done in time to get home before 11 p.m.
Teen driving rules are unnecessarily restrictive and could be put in place in a more reasonable fashion. Adjustments to the rules can not only be more beneficial to teens driving, but to the environment and to adults as well.

Bella Lombardo


Laws exist to keep young adults safe

Nobody likes strict regulations, whether they’re on voting, drivin

John Carlson

g, or school. But it’s a very hard argument to make that they do not help and protect people, especially teenagers. As of 2014, the high school dropout age in Connecticut has been increased to 18. The legislators in Hartford didn’t do this to make our lives harder and more stressful, they did it to protect us and to keep us in school.
Similarly, the legal age to work in Connecticut is 16, not to keep younger kids from having spending money, but to protect them from being exploited by employers. So, why else would such tight teen driving laws exist, other than to protect us from the thing that can hurt us most, ourselves?
The most commonly referenced and disliked law is easily the passenger restrictions, that say a licensed driver between the ages of 16 and 18 may only drive with a parent, legal guardian, or a person over the age of 20 years old. This law is only in place to protect teenagers from distractions and interruptions that their friends may (inadvertently) cause.
Yeah, it sucks not being able to drive your friends around for a year, but it takes longer than that for the brain to get used to driving and gain natural instincts.
The other biggest annoyance to most is the curfew. Teen drivers are not allowed to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., except under very specific circumstances. This makes coming home from parties pretty difficult. Once again, this rule isn’t in place to ruin your social life or even to keep you from going to that party, it’s to keep you from driving home from that party drunk, high, or tired.
Of course, being high or drunk reduces a person’s decision-making abilities, but don’t underestimate the power of being tired. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 100,000 deaths are caused by fatigued driving every year.
Now, if you’re not legally allowed to drive home on your own, how are you supposed to get home from that party?
Connecticut (and many other places as well) has what is called a Safe Ride program. The Safe Ride program exists to allow teenagers to drive other teenagers home that are drunk, high, or tired without any consequences.
When a teenager participates as a driver for the Safe Ride program they are no longer under some of the laws of a normal teen driver, namely they no longer have a minimum age of people they can drive. This exists to allow teenagers to keep themselves and others safe after a party.
These laws may be a nuisance for some, but they act as a way to benefit and protect us teenagers. They keep us off the roads when we’re not fit to drive, and keep us focused on the roads when we are driving.
The laws seem to be working too, as teen motor vehicle deaths are down by 68 percent from 1975 according to the NIH.
With this statistical improvement, and the overall protection of teenagers it’s pretty hard to say that the current teen driving laws don’t benefit all of us.
So yes, the fact that we cannot drive our friends around in our car legally for a year after getting your license is pretty inconvenient. It may even disadvantage you at some point if you are hard-pressed for a ride or you need to work on a late night assignment with your friend. However, it is clear that the positives of these laws outweigh the negatives.

John Carlson



Fact Check:

According to the Connecticut DMV,

Licensed 16 and 17 year olds may not have a passenger in the car with them. Exceptions include legal guardians or driving instructor. After 6 months of being licensed, the exceptions grow to include immediate family members.

Until the 18th birthday, teens may not drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless in the case of emergency, school, religion, or employment.

Until the 18th birthday, all passengers must use seatbelts at all times.

No teens may use an electronic device while driving, even if it is hands-free.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
The student news site of Middletown High School
TAKING SIDES: Are teen driving laws too restrictive?