West Hartford Teen Driving Restrictions

In my reading of the West Hartford News, the article that headlined was Council approves two votes aimed at teen safety. Of course when I saw that, I thought how great that is. And while I don’t think there is anything wrong with trying to keep teens safe — in fact I think it is a good thing — I just don’t know how realistic the council is being. Perhaps I do not understand the workings of the Graduated License Law, which would require 16 and 17 year old licensed drivers to have a licensed adult driver of 25 or older in the car, with no more than one other under-25 year old. Unrealistic? you ask. Let me explain.

First of all, I’m not sure if this is a West Hartford law or not. It seems like a state’s jurisdiction. I teach at a school where a lot of 16 and 17 year olds drive to school. We do not provide free bussing, so kids and parents would have to find an alternative. But looking at this realistically, if it is a West Hartford law, and a kid drives in from Farmington, does he or she get stopped at the townline? If a 16 year old from West Hartford is caught in Farmington, do the rules apply to him or her? Clearly I have a lot to learn about local politics and how to enforce this law.

Some of the speakers at the meeting seemed to make strong cases supporting this vote, and I see that if an adult is in the car, a teen is less likely to speed or take risks, but at the same time, accidents are common. Inexperience in driving does not only play out in the form of risk taking. My problem is less with the law itself than with the way it will be enforced.

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