Monday, November 14, 2011

What Do You Think?: Underage Driving

At least he's wearing
a seatbelt, right?

Pedro is 15 years old. He is the only child of divorced parents, and he can’t wait to turn 16 and be able to get his driver’s license. Pedro lives with his dad, who is usually very busy with work, and he keeps promising to give Pedro some driving lessons, but never has the time. Most of Pedro’s friends have already started learning the basics of how to drive, and constantly share how exciting each practice has been.
Pedro feels left out, and although he has never driven a car, he has been reading the DMV driving manual, learning the street signs, and getting driving tips from his friends. Pedro is impatient with the situation and is thinking about taking his dad’s car out for a ride because his dad is traveling for work and will be away for a couple of days. Pedro’s friends guarantee him he will be fine and keep saying he should drive them all to a friend’s house that weekend.

Questions for Discussion:

1. What would you do if you were Pedro?
2. How would his dad feel if he found out about it? What are the possible consequences of Pedro borrowing a car when he has no practice driving, or permission to do so?
3. How much trouble could he get in if he was caught? Would he be the only one who got in trouble?
4. How would he feel if he damaged the car, got hurt, or hurt somebody else while driving?
5. What would be a different option for Pedro and his friends to get to his friend’s house that weekend?


Getting a Learner's Permit
• Anyone under 18 but at least 15 1/2 years old must first apply for a provisional learner's permit. Teens need to get written permission from a parent or guardian on state forms to receive a permit. Teens must also pass a vision test and a traffic laws and sign test, and have completed, or be enrolled in, driver's education. There are three chances to pass the traffic and signs test, and if you fail, you must wait seven days to take the test again. An adult 25 years old or older with a California driver's license must accompany you whenever you drive.

Getting a Driver's License
• Teens who are at least 16 and have had a learner's permit for at least six months may apply for a driver's license. You must have finished driver's education and six hours of driver training. You must also have logged 50 hours of driver practice under the supervision of an adult 25 or older, and 10 of those hours must be night driving. Once you have met those requirements, you may apply to take a driving test. If you pass, you will be awarded a provisional license. For the first 12 months after you've received the license, it will be illegal to drive with anyone under the age of 20 without the supervision of an adult 25 or older. It also will be illegal to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 p.m. for the first year after receiving a restricted driver's license. No one under the age of 18 may be employed to drive a vehicle. After the driver turns 18, a driver's license is no longer considered “provisional.”

• Driving without a license is a misdemeanor offense in California and can result in a fine. Police may also tow and impound the car. A minor caught driving without a license also will be delayed in being able to get one. According to California state law, an employer, legal guardian or parent also could face legal trouble if he permits an underage, unlicensed driver to drive.

National Statistics
** 16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.

** 16-year-olds are 3 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average of all drivers.

** Drivers ages 15-20 accounted for 12% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2008 and 14% of all drivers involved in police-reported crashes

** 63% of teenage passenger deaths in 2008 occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager. Among deaths of passengers of all ages, 19% occurred when a teenager was driving (IIHS).

**The number of drivers ages 15-20 involved in fatal crashes totaled 5,864 in 2008,

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, in 2008:

** Hand-held cellphone use while driving was highest among 16- to 24-year-olds (8% in 2008, down from 9% in 2007).

** 37% of male drivers ages 15-20 who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time.

**55%, or 2,014, of the 3,678 occupants of passenger vehicles ages 16-20 who were killed in crashes were not buckled up.

What Can Mentors Do to Help Prevent This?:

** Educate yourself on the topic, so that you can be a good source of reliable information for your mentee.

** Talk about this topic with your mentee. Make sure your mentee is aware of the risks involved in driving, as well as statistics. Educate them about risks and penalties resulting from underage driving.

** Ask their opinion on the matter. Talk about their friends’ opinions as well.

** Give tips on important driving skills, which they might find fun and helpful before they are able to start driving.

** Know that happens and accidents can result. Read a short article about a true story.

** These sites are a great resource for information on how to apply for a driver’s license once you have reached the minimum required age:
DMV Handbook
The Unofficial DMV Guide
Review a Driving Contract

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