Oct 20, 2008

Driver's ed

Traffic fatalities so far this year in western Norway have been at an all-time high. 45% of the ones killed are between the ages of 15 and 25, and the main reason is speed. This is happening in a country that has mandatory and expensive driver's training and exacting driver's tests. It's like the thousands of kroners spent on learning to drive (and the many hours) to get that precious license means absolutely nothing.

There are a few other things that I find questionable about how things are set up here: In Norway, you can vote, drive and drink - all at age 18. The local paper is running small vignettes with kids celebrating their 18th birthday and quite a few are so happy they are now old enough to drink. No, they can't drink and drive, but one suspects that one reason for accidents with an adolescent behind the wheel are unruly passengers (who have been drinking).

One of the suggestions made about how to get young people to ease up on the gas pedal, is to get adolescent girls to speak up - for their own safety. I think this is a good idea, but I wonder how they will implement it.

The rules have changed in California since I first got my driver's license, but there was one experience during driver's training that I think is relevant today. My high school offered driver's training and at no charge. Four kids and an instructor would get into the car once a week for two hours of practice together. One kid would drive for half an hour, and the three not driving would watch, listen and learn. You learn a lot from other people's mistakes and a discussion with the instructor about it (Norwegians are always alone with their instructor). We were two girls and two boys. One boy tried to speed a bit and our instructor told him that he may want to find another way to show muscle. "Because speeding doesn't impress the girls; it scares them," our instructor said. "Isn't that right, girls?" he asked us in the back seat. And we emphatically agreed. I could see by the two boys' expressions that they hadn't really considered this, and no one tried to speed again during our driver's training. The two boys actually made the effort to be a bit more gentlemanly.

I can't help but think that a learning situation like that (we were ages 15-16) would be helpful in Norway. It was a good way to learn about driving and it was a good way to learn about appropriate behavior for other reasons than getting from point A to point B.

9 comments:

NWO said...

I guess it's just a universal problem. Back in the States the trend is to prohibit teens from having passengers.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Hi, NWO, and welcome! Maybe the US needs to go back to 70's style driver's training, too. :-) Some Norwegians think introducing driver's ed to kids aged 12-13 would be a good idea, as well.

I think the kids need to learn how to rein in their egos (and friends) when responsibility calls. That's a good thing to know, even when not driving.

Øyvind said...

Hi Keera! Greetings from Åsane. =) Nice to see that you're still going strong here.

Just wanted to let you know that I've eh.. meme tagged you in my latest post, hope you're game! =)

Best wishes,
Øyvind

alice said...

nwo said it first, but I had the same thought -- that there's a good law here that prohibits new drivers from having other young people in the car while they're driving. It gives the new driver a chance to focus on driving and not showing off, driving round their drunk friends or other other stupid stunts that lead to dead kids.

Keera Ann Fox said...

That's one way to do it, but I wonder how practical it is? One suggestion in Norway is to allow 17-year-olds to drive, but not at night. That suggestion was totally shot down - by the young themselves. I'm afraid they don't understand what the older folks are trying to tell them. :-/

Keera Ann Fox said...

Hi, Øyvind! Velkommen! I'm not sure there are 7 weird things about me, but I'll give it a try. :-)

Sparkling Red said...

That suggestions is certainly worth a try. Anything to save lives. Speeding is stupid.

Miz UV said...

I would love it if they raised the driving age here -- to 25! (35 for guys, hah)

Actually, if they would just enforce existing laws, things would improve dramatically.

Keera Ann Fox said...

We constantly hear of cops with speed traps, but never on those stretches of road where there's an accident. I guess they need to put up those cameras everywhere.