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Driving is a huge responsibility

By Staff
Kim West, Franklin County Times
My younger sister and I both started driving to school at the same time, and that was when my dad gave us a typed, six-month driving plan that he had culled from a car insurance guidebook.
At the time, I thought the plan was extreme, but maybe that's because I was 16 and thought I knew everything. At some point during college – and after a few speeding tickets and traffic incidents – I figured out my dad wasn't being overly cautious.
I'm not sure giving a teenager the keys to a vehicle with limited driving experience is the smartest idea we've ever had.
This state requires a driver under the age of 18 to complete 30 hours of a certified driving course, along with passing a written and practical exam. But that doesn't seem like enough time to really learn how to drive, especially considering many courses count the time a student is just a passenger in a driver's education vehicle. I know many teens are fortunate to have parents who take the time to teach their kids, but not all young drivers (and the rest of us) are that fortunate.
I think it's great that some states have adopted graduated driving plans, and maybe one day those will become standard across the country. I know things have changed a lot in this state since I passed my driver's test.
In 2002, the Alabama Department of Public Safety enacted additional restrictions for drivers under the age of 18. Young drivers must have special circumstances to drive between midnight and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by an adult or guardian. And they are limited in the number of passengers they're allowed to transport.
But we can't blame young drivers for causing every accident, because there are very few of us who are flawless drivers thanks to distractions such as cell phones, powerful stereos, fast food and DVD players. I took an informal poll with my co-workers and found out nearly everyone had received at least one speeding ticket, and some of us are multiple offenders, including me. There is nothing worse than seeing those blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror, and arriving at my destination a few minutes quicker isn't worth a $100-plus ticket or injuring either my passengers or another driver's.
Law enforcement officials in this county have done a good job enforcing traffic laws, and I realize they are just doing their job and making the roadways safe for all of us.
So I'm making a resolution to never find out what it's like to be pulled over by an officer in this county.