Teen drivers…what are they thinking?

petals in puddle

They want to fit in.  Like pieces in a puzzle.  Each have their special place that makes for a masterpiece. But teens, whether driving or not, have trouble focusing on where they lie in the scheme of things.  Driving adds mitigating factors to an already overloaded teen brain to challenge it in ways it’s never experienced.

The 2017 Chicago Auto Show addressed this problem in one of their Facebook Live interview segments hosted by ABC7’s traffic  reporter Roz Varon.  Facebook Live’s video included Joe Koenig from Chicago Clean Cities and from the National Safety Council, Senior Director Alex Epstein.  Even a question by yours truly made it into the interview!

The issue of autonomous vehicles came up and Alex Epstein noted the various ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) that the market is offering consumers currently like AEB, park assist, blind spot detection, lane keeping, etc.  Over 40 technologies are available right now.  NSC assists drivers with the learning curve by providing a link on their website to My Car Does What?  This should be a first stop for teens considering a spin in the family wagon, or Tesla, as the case may be these days!

I brought up the question of whether driver’s education programs would be updated to match the learning curve of new technologies in autos for young drivers.  The concept was met with some interest by Alex Epstein, but he noted that driver’s education programs are different in many states and the NSC was working with districts to include ADAS technology instruction using the aforementioned website My Car Does What?.

In Illinois for example, the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program hoped to be the best in the nation when it was first signed into law in 2007.  It cited a previous study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to justify its strict regulations and curfews for teen driving hoping to reduce teen crashes and deaths.  The State of Illinois reports that it spent over $18,750,000 on driver education statewide in 2015-2016 that impacted the fiscal year 2017.  Amendments to the law have been made since then and the statute in its current form can be found at cyberdriveillinois.com.

2015 Teen Crash causes study done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety updated the information that the GDL was based upon.

With the practice driving minimum requirement of only 50 hours, we all have quite a bit to worry about when it comes to teen drivers.  This just adds to the deck of cards one is dealt when dealing with teenagers…God love them.  So, get out there America. Teach those kids what’s important when driving, all our lives may depend on it.

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