In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Teens Die. Lawmakers Watch.
Ya gotta wonder how high the teen-driver death count will skyrocket before lawmakers act? Since December of 2003, a bill has been in the hopper to limit the number of passengers in a car with a teenage driver. Had the law been on the books last week, the body count in the tragic car-train crash in Canton would have been two, not five. That's assuming the young driver followed the law and given his driving record that may have been a stretch. Nonetheless the statistics are mind numbing: (1) 6,000 teen drivers die each year nationwide at a staggering cost of $39 billion. (2) When you add passengers, the risk of an accident goes up 39%. (3) 57% in Michigan favor a ban on passengers as do AAA and the state police. So in 6 years, why has the legislature sat idly by while the20death count goes up? In many respects it's the same reason lawmakers initially opposed seat belt laws. It was an intrusion on personal liberty. Yeah and so are red lights, stop signs and yellow lines. It turns out seat belts are saving lives and so far nobody has renounced his or her citizenship because their liberties were violated. Surprisingly Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, whose job it is to promote traffic safety, opposes this legislation saying it should be up to the parents to regulate riders in their teen's automobile. That, of course, assumes that parents care and take the trouble to find out. Look it. The state has made great strides in reducing teen accidents with a trend setting graduated driver's license program, but many believe adding a restriction on passengers would all ow young drivers to concentrate on the road and not on the antics of their peers inside the car. But to date lawmakers have seen fit to sit on their hands rather than lend a hand to save more young lives. Shame on them.