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Provisional License Laws Frustrate Teenagers but Save Lives

Peyton Hedges, Staff Reporter

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The thrill of getting your license is a feeling no one forgets. You finally have the freedom to go where you want, when you want and with who you want, and imagine yourself cruising around with friends and staying out late. Until you realize you won’t be able to do these things for at least 6 months.

The reality is harsh — you’ve waited so long to get your license and you can’t even enjoy it how you want to.

In 1999 the state of Oregon crushed many teenagers’ dreams of freedom when it instituted the provisional license law, which limits a new driver’s ability to have passengers in the car and to drive at night for the first year of licensure.

Although the provisional license restrictions may be frustrating to teenagers, including myself, the truth is that they are ultimately beneficial and are in place for good reason.

The law states that during the first six months with your license, you cannot drive with any passengers under the age of 20 who are not immediate members of your family. You are also not allowed to drive between the hours of midnight and 5AM, unless for work or school purposes, or if accompanied by a licensed driver at least 25 years old.

After you have had your license for six months, you are allowed to drive other people, but no more than 3 passengers under the age of 20. You still are not able to drive between midnight and 5AM.

These rules only apply while you are under 18, or until you have had your license for a year.

Even though the provisional license law is in place, it’s hard to ignore that not many people follow the rules. I personally have broken these rules by driving my friends, and getting into cars with people who had not had their license for six months. It’s especially tempting when you think you’re only going a short distance or that you and your friends are good drivers.

The frustration and annoyance teens feel towards these laws is a misplaced reaction. When I first got my license I thought that I was a good driver and could handle a few people in the car with me. However, after breaking the rules and driving my friends around when I wasn’t supposed to, I realized that it does make it more difficult to drive. It’s so easy for anyone to get distracted while driving, by texts, GPS navigation, and music, so having other people in the car only adds to that.

Many studies have also been conducted showing that these provisional license requirements have lowered fatal crashes among teenagers. According to the National Institutes of Health, since all 50 states have passed these laws, the amount of fatal crashes among 16-17 year-olds has been reduced by 8 to 14 percent.

In addition, researchers at the Pacific Institute of Research looked at crash rates from 1990-2007 to analyze the effects of nighttime and passenger restrictions on the rate of fatal car crashes among 16-17 year-olds. They estimated that states with these laws reduced fatal crash rates by 10 percent in comparison to states without these driving restrictions at the time. They also estimated that nighttime driving restrictions reduced the rate of nighttime crashes by 13 percent.

These results clearly display the impact of these laws, and if teenagers did a better job of following these rules, it’s not hard to imagine that the number of fatal crashes would drop even further.

If the safety of yourself and your friends isn’t enough to make you want to obey these laws, the penalty for getting caught could result in a fine or even suspension of your license. I personally would rather drive by myself than not be able to drive at all. If transportation is an issue and it seems that the only solution would be to drive with your friends or to drive at night, you could consider calling an Uber or Lyft. Even though it costs money, it is usually pretty cheap when you consider splitting the cost with everyone in the car. Taking the bus, having a parent drive you, or just walking is a small sacrifice to make in order to keep yourself and friends safe, and keep your driving privileges. We should all try to do a better job following the rules because ultimately they are in place only for the safety of teenagers and other drivers on the road.

Creative Commons photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kaysha/4736796413

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1 Comment

One Response to “Provisional License Laws Frustrate Teenagers but Save Lives”

  1. Molly Hogan on June 8th, 2017 11:18 am

    I think that the laws regarding the provisional license are smart, but sometimes not practical. It is hard to turn someone down who needs a ride home after school. After telling them you can’t because your six months aren’t up, it’s hard not to feel guilty. Usually the person understands but it’s still a controversial law.

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Provisional License Laws Frustrate Teenagers but Save Lives