Reader Addresses Student Driving Policy
To the Editor:
I would like to address the Emmetsburg School Board’s recent decision to revise the student driving policy for middle school students. While I understand the reasons to request a school permit, I would encourage you to first consider the following statistics:
– Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-to-20-year olds.
– In Iowa, teens and young people ages 14-24 represent 17% of licensed drivers, but suffer 40% of all fatal and serious traffic injuries.
– In Iowa, teens age 14-19 have a higher fatality rate in motor vehicle collisions than any other age group.
– 188 people died in 2002-2006 as a result of an Iowa traffic crash involving a teen driver.
– Teenage crash rates increase 700% when there is no parent in the vehicle.
While maturity, good grades, good character, and drivers’ education grades all factor in to whether or not a student should or should not be driving, it is the combination of inexperience and overconfidence that leads to the deaths of thousands of teen drivers. Research indicates that it takes 5 years for most novices to become proficient at driving.
I have had the unfortunate experience too many times to be at the bedside and witness the devastation of teen drivers, their families, and friends after their involvement in a severe motor vehicle collision. It is heartbreaking to know that the only decisions left in that teenager’s life revolve around what funeral home to call and whether or not to donate organs.
Our school district is full of wonderful young people, my own children included. They are smart, mature, and responsible. However, none of these attributes are enough to justify a school permit at such a young age.