I love it when state legislators stick it to teenagers because they aren't old enough to vote.
Republican State Senator Tom Wyss wants to pass a law that requires 50 hours of supervised driving (including ten at night) before someone can get his or her license. This is a good idea employed by 20 others states, and it's “age neutral.” If you are learning to drive for the first time at age 40, you have the same requirements as someone who is 16.
What bothers me is the provision that says drivers under 18 cannot use cell phones or any "hand-held devices" (which I assume includes iPods). Studies show pretty clearly that divided attention causes accidents, but I haven’t seen a single study showing that our ability to multi-task improves with age, have you?
As a perfect illustration of my point, look at this paragraph in the Indianapolis Star’s story about the hearing before the Study Committee supporting these changes:
The committee also heard from 24-year-old Kira Hudson, of Noblesville, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a single-car accident four years ago. Hudson said she was driving and talking on the cell phone when she swerved and hit a line of trees.
"I wasn't paying 100 percent attention," she said from her wheelchair. "Don't let my story happen to others."
Anybody notice anything? Specifically, the fact that Ms. Hudson was TWENTY when she had her accident. These legislators who are allegedly acting in the urgent interest of public safety COULD pass a law prohibiting ANYBODY from using cell phones, PDAs, or "hand-held devices" while in their cars.
But they set the age limit at UNDER 18. What a coincidence! Isn't that when teenagers get the right to vote?!? If you only put restrictions on people under 18 (a/k/a the "nonvoting class"), who can hurt you in November?
Put simply, I would be more moved by Senator Wyss’s public safety exhortations if they weren’t so covered in self-protective crap.
If I were about to turn 18, I know I'd cast my first vote....against Tom Wyss for targeting me.