Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Driver's Ed

Since September 1, 2007, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that anyone under the age of 18 who would like to have a license to drive in the state take professional driver’s education. This would include 30 hours of class time, 12 hours on the road, and 6 hours of observation time. 
My daughter, who got her permit on the day she became eligible, will soon finish her driver’s education training. What has been included in her mandatory 12 hours road time and 6 hours observation time?
·         A trip to the Burger King parking lot to wait for instructor to get onion rings.
·         Rap music blaring on the car radio.
·         Getting to view pictures of instructor on his iPhone.
·         Sitting in the parking lot of the driving school for 20 minutes waiting for another instructor so their customers can drive home.
·         An instructor who bobs her head, obstructing the driver’s view, but telling the teen driver when it’s safe to go.
The law written to promote safe teen driving not only justifies the existence of this business, but makes it mandatory if a teen wants to get her license before the age of 18.  It includes a provision for parents to take a 2 hour course.  I got to spend two hours of my life there tonight.
The parent class was basically a litany of updated fines for speeding, not wearing your seat belt, operating between the hours of 12:30 and 5:00, as well as chock-full of ways to get around permit test questions, which branch has the most lenient inspectors, and what to avoid.  In the same hour and fifteen minutes the owner of the auto driving school managed to enlighten us about the new rules, warn us how we can’t trust that our kids will do the right thing, and how best to work the system.
And why did it last only an hour and fifteen minutes?  Nobody really needs two hours of that crap.  The instructor ought to know – it’s his cash cow business thanks to support by the Massachusetts legislature.  At least I’m not too bitter about wasting those two hours of my life, not to mention the $750 for the privilege of fulfilling the asinine requirements of an overreaching law designed to further the adolescence of American teenagers while reaching into their parents’ pockets.  I’m just surprised that no one is touting the job creation benefits of it all.

After my daughter gets her license – after I decide she’s ready to get her license – I plan to write to the business owner about the intent of the law, the behavior of his employees, and the concentration of his talk.  He seemed to be a decent guy, but I despise the disparity between the serious nature of law and his company’s wink-and-nod approach. 


Amy said...


Lynne said...

I was so pissed going into the meeting! But the guy seemed genuine enough and he owned the company before these new rules came along.

The worst part is that all the time and effort wasted on compliance with the law will not effect change in the dangerous habits of the teen drivers. Like all bad laws, it will only give license to shift the issue from one of personal responsibility to one of circumventing punishment. In this case it goes even further by first removing parental oversight (making only professionals, approved by the state able to teach driver's ed and then requires that the parents attend training as well. Basically, it turns a very serious issue, accidents caused by inexperienced drivers are the leading cause of teenage deaths, into a joke.

I'm looking into Skid School for her. I hear that is excellent driver's training.