I Pit Indiana's Provisional Driving Laws

So my 16 year old daughter wanted to go play miniature golf this afternoon with three friends. “Tyler” and “Luke” both have their licenses, and she and “Emma” both have their permits. No problem, right? Well, no, because Indiana has provisional driving laws, which state that, for six months after you get your license:

“You may not drive with passengers for 180 days after getting your license, unless you are also accompanied by a licensed instructor, an individual with a valid Indiana driver’s license who is 25 years or older, or a parent, guardian, or step-parent who is 21 years or older. You may drive with your child, sibling, or spouse during the hours allowed by law.”

(Your spouse?!? You can be married and still not allowed to drive with them in your car?)

Well, maybe that’s not so bad, you’d say. But what about:

"You may not drive between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for 180 days after getting your license.

After you have driven for 180 days, you may not drive during the following hours:

Saturday and Sunday, between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Sunday through Thursday, after 11 p.m.
Monday through Friday, before 5 a.m. "

Really??!! My daughter and her friends, all of them good, smart, kids, can’t drive a car after midnight on weekends? They have an exception for “work, school, or a religious event” but that’s it. So, if you have a divorced parent that you were hanging out with, you can’t drive home after 11 or 12? No trips to, say, Great America or a concert that might get out after midnight?

Clearly, the purpose of these laws is to control teenager’s behavior. All of the research I’ve done shows that the highest crash and fatality rates fall into the 20-24 year old age range, so maybe they’re the ones who need this kind of babysitting.

I have a friend who thinks they should all ride bicycles. I can’t imagine sending my kid on a bicycle on back roads with poor visibility and then busy roads with lots of traffic is any safer than sending them all in a car with a licensed driver who has passed all the exams and logged all of the driving time required. Not to mention, in most non-city areas, you’d be talking about a two-hour round trip ride for them.

I feel bad for my daughter - she’s the one who’s going to have to decide what to do about this. My husband and I have already told her that we will not enforce those laws, and we will help her fight them if need be, but she’s the one who’s going to pay the consequences if she gets caught.

Fuck these laws - I have yet to see any good data that indicates these laws save lives. The Baby Boomers sure turned into pussies…

I think mini-golf or going to Great America should qualify as “religious events.”

Did you look, or are you just saying that no one randomly showed up to your house to show you the data? Here’s the first result I get from google. Seems to make a pretty solid case.

The money quote:

Neither goodness or smartness aren’t really the issue. Good and smart kids squash just as readily as dumb deliquants, and kids aren’t really going to be smarter or more responsible six months after they get a license then they are the day after they get it.

But they will be better drivers, for the simple reason that you get better at everything the more you do it. And the rate of improvement is weighted towards the first few months. So limiting kids, even smart and good ones, to not driving in those situations most frequently associated with fatal crashes for the first few months makes sense.

Minature golf will probably still be a thing in six months.

Actually, both the NHTSB and the census data indicates that the biggest at risk group in terms of driving danger is 20-25 year olds. Apologies for the lack of direct cites, but I’m on a phone and linking is tricky.

I will also note that any study that begins with “car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens” or some such is automatically suspect of being alarmist - of course it is! Teenagers don’t generally die of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s or those kinds of things.

And how about the non-16 year old driver restrictions? Those that say, no matter how much experience you have, you can’t drive after 11 on the weekends? Does that seem reasonable to you, in terms of safe driving as opposed to controlling teenagers?

And, no, mini golf won’t be here in six months. It will be winter. :frowning:

16 year old driver and two friends in broad daylight on a frontage road to the Interstate.

Your daughter and three friends going out for some fun? Oh yeah, zero chance they’ll screw around or she’ll be distracted while driving, right? What a horrible hardship it is that she just got her license and you can’t just turn her loose.

The article said that they weren’t wearing seatbelts, and the driver was driving like an asshole. How do these provisional laws prevent that? Particularly those that set a curfew until age 18?

Look, kids are gonna die. It’s a bummer, but I don’t see how the law would have made any difference. Driving with passengers was already against the law there, he clearly didn’t follow it. Plus, he was driving completely irresponsibly.

And why is it considered bad that I would want to “turn her loose”? She’s an extremely responsible girl, far more than I was at that age, and I would trust her to drive responsibly.

At what point did it become the norm to shelter your children from all sharp corners until the age of 30 or so? I want her to live life, to make mistakes and feel that she has our trust. Those are all good things, and shouldn’t be a negative.

I suspect your confusing total fatalities in an age cohort vs. fatalities per mile driven. A lot of teens simply don’t have cars/licenses, so their miles driven are lower. But as far as actual chance of dying when they’re driving, 16-19 year olds are more at risk as my previous cite shows.

Its the CDC linking to studies from JAMA and USDOT.

Again, responsibility isn’t the issue. She’s an inexperienced driver.

Its not about protecting the drivers. If drivers could decide for themselves how much risk they wanted to take getting from point A to B, and then take all the concequences onto themselves, that would be fine. But if your daughter hits someone else, the risk isn’t just to her. Thus traffic laws are decided by the community as a whole, as the risk of various policies are born by pretty much everyone that gets with a few meters of a public road.

Indiana’s not protecting your daughter from sharp corners - it’s protecting the rest of us from your daughter. She’s an inexperienced kid in control of a couple of thousand pounds of steel, and we don’t trust her yet.

No matter how responsible she is, your kid is not as good a driver as she will be in six months. She’s not going to recognize hazards or react as quickly to things that happen on the road as a more experienced driver will. The provisional license allows her to gain some on-the-road experience, but still limits her to situations in which she’s least likely to cause problems for other people. Distracted drivers and tired drivers, even experienced ones, cause accidents; those rules reduce the likelihood that your daughter will do that.

Honestly, the bar to getting a driver’s license is pretty damn low, and new drivers are downright bad. On my driving test, I don’t think I broke 15 mph, and it tested nothing more than whether I could come to a complete stop, keep both hands on the wheel, and follow directions. That’s not enough to turn new drivers loose on the roads, so the rules ease them into the process.

Yes. It’s not protecting your daughter from Life. It’s protecting the world from your daughter. The odds of the car being an excited, party atmosphere, with the radio blasting and people shrieking/laughing/gabbling/texting at each other and pointing at things and hanging out windows, increases exponentially with every teenager you add to a car. A kid driving with their friend is one thing. A kid driving with six friends in Mom’s SUV is another. Add in the stereo pumping, kids high on freedom, a late night returning from the movies/party/bowling/whatever, and you have a recipe for hotdogging, impressing your friends, and generally behaving like a raging asshole.

It’s not their fault. It’s what teenagers do. We’re trying to keep the collateral damage at a minimum.

None of that matters if your kid texts and drives. :stuck_out_tongue: It’s illegal here in Colorado, but my students admit to it.

Kids are stupid. May as well limit their driving when they’re more likely to be drunk, tired, hungover, or there is poor visibility.

I agree that it is a nuisance, but it is worth it, as others have pointed out.

I have two 19-year-olds who just didn’t have time or enthusiasm to get their licenses until this summer, and New Jersey won’t let them drive after 11pm and won’t let them have more than one non-family passenger.

It is annoying, and I am having a difficult time explaining to both of them that the law is a serious matter and that they should not disobey this law; they just don’t “get it” that they aren’t kids anymore. They have already broken the restrictions on more than one occasion.

I don’t complain too much about this bit of disobedience since they are otherwise model teenagers, but I want to understand that they are adults now and need to play by grownup rules.

Well, okay, I’ll take the bait.

From: http://www.ghsa.org/html/publications/pdf/spotlights/spotlight_teens11.pdf [Governors Highway Safety Association] [An easy google search, incidentally.]

“Since graduated driver licensing (Gdl) began to be introduced in the mid-1990s,
teenage driver fatalities have dropped precipitously, more so than in the case of
older drivers. This is so particularly for 16- and 17-year-olds, the primary age groups
targeted by Gdl.”

“Evaluations of state GDL programs have reported crash reductions ranging from 20 to 40 percent, unusually high for a highway safety countermeasure (Shope, 2007). The results pertain primarily to 16-year-olds, the age group directly affected in most states.”

I can’t cut-and-paste the chart, but there’s one showing Fatally Injured Drivers by age, 1995 to 2010 (1995 being the very earliest days of GDL):

*From 508 dead 16-year-old drivers in 1995, to 435 in 2000, to 356 in 2005, to 158 in 2010.

*Seventeen year olds? (They are typically less affected by GDL, but usually affected to some degree, especially lately.) From 507 to 250 in that fifteen year period.

*Compare that to overall, 19K deaths of drivers 20+ in 1995 and 14.6K deaths in 2010, and you’ll see that the deaths among 16 and 17-y-o drivers have been declining much more rapidly than the national average.

Sure, there are other things going on, too: safer cars, fewer miles driven, more attention to DWI laws, etc., and the report says that the rate of deaths among young drivers seems now to be beginning to rise, though only slightly. And certainly the raw numbers of deaths aren’t huge, and weren’t huge even in 1995: clearly the chances for 16-y-o drivers dying in a crash have always been pretty minimal. But I don’t see how anyone can look at those stats and say that GDL requirements aren’t helping to save lives–and that’s just the lives of drivers, not passengers, not pedestrians, not other folks who are unfortunate enough to be on the road.

I’m sure the OP’s daughter is indeed a model and mature child and a model and mature citizen, and I’m sure that her friends are too. And I’m sure that none of them would dream of texting while driving or playing the radio excessively loudly or deliberately distracting the driver, let alone drinking while driving or playing chicken. --But you know what? I had a son like that too. I trusted him just about completely, trusted him to behave in a responsible and mature fashion in almost every situation. And even so I didn’t LET him get his license till he was 17, and I would not have allowed him to take passengers for at LEAST 6 months after that even if there hadn’t been a law against it. Why? Because he had so little driving experience, and because all the best intentions in the world don’t negate that, and because the stakes are too damn high.

[I agree, btw, with the OP that making mistakes (and learning from them) is an important part of growing up. It’s just that behind the wheel of a car is a pretty lousy place for anyone to make mistakes.]

I was the model smart, good responsible kid back in 1984 when I got my license. When I think back on the careless driving, poor judgment and just plain stupid errors I made due to immaturity and lack of experience I am grateful I didn’t hurt anyone or myself during that first year. Most of the danger cam e with passengers cranking up the music, distracting me and my wanting to look cool to them.

My son is 17 and working towards his dl and I am grateful for the gdl here in NY. And he’s a smart, responsible (he’s a lifeguard), capable kid.

We just buried my neighbor’s son (20 yo) who lost control of his car at 4:30 in the morning and hit a tree. And that was with some driving experience. I’m ok with them taking it slow.

you could always look at the effects these laws have made in the teen driver death rates in states where they have been enacted…but what would I know, I just teach people how to drive.

A few more comments…

First, just so we’re all clear, Indiana says that probationary licenses are only for under-18s (the OP implies this but doesn’t state it specifically). From the state’s licensing procedures: “If you are 18 years of age or older when you obtain your Indiana driver’s license, your license is not probationary.” So the spouse thing, for instance, applies only to the under-18 crowd. Similarly, the OP mentioned that it seemed to be “the norm” these days to keep kids from sharp corners till they’re 30–which may be true, but graduated licensing isn’t an example of that at all.

Second, the OP is certainly right that the GDL requirements are arbitrary, that an experienced 17-year-old driver should be allowed a lot more leeway than an inexperienced driver of the same age, even that there may be important differences between the driving skills/responsibility sense of one kid and another of the same age and experience level. But it’s really complicated, and economically prohibitive, to draw these kinds of distinctions. I thought my son would have made an excellent voter at age 16–hell, at age 15. But a lot of people at that age, as I’m sure most older folks would agree, would be really bad voters. (My daughter would have been an excellent example of that.) We have chosen a rather arbitrary age where (we hope) the good outweighs the bad where voting is concerned; same with driving.

Third, it seems that in this case all you really need is one parent (of the four kids involved) to be available to take the group to the mini-golf course. What would you have done last year, before the kids were able (by law) to have licenses and permits? Would you have figured out a way for someone to take the kids? Or has your daughter literally, or just about literally, never gotten to go anywhere in her 16 years because you didn’t have time/found it too much of a hassle? I know it can be a struggle to continue to schlep teenagers around, having done more than my share over the years, but I’m often surprised to see how quickly parents seem to want to wash their hands of taking the kids anyplace. In the general scheme of things, how much more of a burden is it to do it for another two years?

Finally, I just have to point out that Indiana is of course a pretty solidly Republican state, which despite having narrowly voted for Obama in '08 has a heavily Republican state senate, a heavily Republican state House, and Mitch Daniels, a heavily Republican governor. I always thought it was conservatives who hated the nanny state…Guess not!

Graduated drivers licences aren’t enough.

Thousands of lives would be saved every year if driving was banned completely. And flying. And walking. And drinking Big Gulps.

Alternatively, as has been pointed out above, it shows the laws were successful?

I’ve been seeing more and more limousine rental businesses popping up. How much would it cost to rent a limo, complete with chauffeur to haul your kids to a round of mini golf?