Town Square

Post a New Topic

Teen Drivers and Their Restrictions.

Original post made by Concerned Parent, Palo Alto High School, on Jun 10, 2012

As the parent of a newly licensed driver, I am very interested to know what other parents are allowing their young drivers to do about their driving restrictions since we are now 3 days into summer.

When reminding my own teen about not giving rides to friends or being home by 11.00 pm with the car, because it is the law, I am told that no one pays attention to these restrictions.

We no longer live in the 50s, 60s or even 70s when every teen automatically got their license as a rite of passage with very little effort and that cruising down main street was the thing to do on a Saturday night. This is not small town America, but a very busy cosmopolitan area with plenty of traffic and difficult driving situations.

In fact many teens are not getting their licenses and many do not pass the test first time. Driving is a responsibility and a privilege rather than a right, and I personally feel that the law helps me as a parent to remind my young driver to be strict about curfew with the car and to forbid other teens in the car.

Am I alone? How do others deal with this? Thoughts would be appreciated.

Comments (33)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by paly parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Unfortunately, most of the students and their parents allow kids to drive whoever and whenever they like as soon as they get their license. Even with parents that don't, once your child is off with the car, you have no idea who is in there with them, although you can certainly tell them when to be home.

Just because your child has their license does not automatically mean you need to let them have the car whenever they want. I'd personally want my student to have another 50 hours of supervised driving before I let them take the car out recreationally (as opposed to driving to school, sports, work or an errand for you).

But your kid is right - most people ignore the law, maybe because they are tired of driving their kids around!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by obey the law
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm

My kids obey both the spirit and the letter of the law. Very easy to prove that these restrictions save lots of lives every year. If you teach your kids to ignore the law as teenagers, what kind of trouble are they going to get into when they go to college?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Recent Gunn grad
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Unfortunately, it is very common for the rules to be broken.
A lot of it has to do with other students. Now that your kid can drive, a lot of his friends will start asking him/her to drive them to lunch, to drive to to X location, etc., and it will very hard for your kid to say no to his/her friends, especially since there is a perception that "nothing bad will happen."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It seems that some parents have forgotten that their role is to provide limits. The law represents the legal limits and parents may well decide to be more restrictive than the law but to be less restrictive than the law is to, literally, breed anarchy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by paly parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2012 at 8:07 am

Peter and Obey the Law - My kids both had to obey the law and we were very restrictive in when and where they could drive. They could drive when it was convenient for us and were not allowed to take friends. I was just pointing out that it is a law that is very widely broken, especially if a kid takes a car to school. They will be asked to drive to lunch, rides home, etc. Sometimes it is easier simply to not put a child in the position where they will be asked to break the law by their friends. The same thinking applies to many teenage situations - for example, if you leave your teenagers home alone for the weekend, don't be surprised if they have friends over....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 11, 2012 at 8:47 am

Thank you for your comments, particularly those with experience of the subject and Gunn recent grad for your experience, which is as expected.

We do not allow our young driver to drive to school for these very reasons. It is fairly easy to keep the driving routine law abiding during the school year, but now that it is summer it appears that the rules are being flaunted even more.

With more time on their hands, the requests for driving to the beach, to a movie or some destination beyond biking or walking distance become more attractive. Independence, a feeling of being more mature with age and a license, plus hearing stories from peers as to what they are allowed to do, gives us parents a much harder time when we say no. I urge us all to be diligent in reminding our teen drivers of the law and why we are saying no to their request. This is a time to be strong and join together in the protection of all our teens.

After all, if I say no to my teen only to find that it only means the law is being broken because my teen is being offered a ride by your teen, then I am not helping the situation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Licenses are suspended
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 11, 2012 at 10:25 am

My neighbor learned the hard way... he was caught driving friends and lost his newly gained license for more than a year. If this risk was more widely undestood, they might be more inclined to want to follow the rules themselves.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alfred E Newman
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

two words:

Driving Contract (I prefer the ones that start with the statement about the leading cause of death of a KID his age is an auto accident)

Download a couple, compare and create one for your child. A good contract not only identifies the laws and household rules, most importantly **it specifies actions for infractions**.

Takes the animus out of the situation when your boy breaks the rules. (if you have a boy, he will.)

"Oh, Billy Joe, looks like you had friends in the car in violation of the rules; here's a copy of the contract you signed, please go read the relevant section and remind us what the consequences are. Oh dear, one month privileges revoked? That's too bad dear, hand me the key, please, as you agreed..."

Or the alternative: arguing with a teenaged male about the most important thing in his world.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

Been there, in both situations. One works. One makes it worse.

Just my $.02


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nancy Brown
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 11, 2012 at 11:06 am

I have two daughters, 17 and 20. Both (and every one of their friends) adhered to the letter and spirit of the law and were excited when their restrictions ease up! Once, near the end of a friend's year they violated the law, with a note from me explaining the emergency context. None of their peer group has had an accident and research suggests that the new laws have reduced accidents and death among teens - so protect your children and adhere to those laws!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Former Teen Driver
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I grew in Palo Alto, and I remember how it was...my parents would just write me a note if they didn't want to pick me up late at night or if I needed to give my younger siblings a ride somewhere--that way, it was technically legal.

Additionally, I spoke with a police officer a while back regarding the law, and he informed me that no officer is going to pull over a group of teenagers or a younger driver who is out past 11 to check on how long the driver has been licensed--and when accidents do happen, they have been told (by the police department!) to rarely enforce these laws. Namely, if the driver appears to be sorry for whatever they have done wrong, to not additionally ticket them for breaking the restrictions.

Will they? Yes, but (as the officer informed me), that was usually an additional slap on the wrist for when nobody--the teen or the parent--were taking the original ticket seriously.

If the cops aren't going to enforce the law, it's little wonder that most people in this area aren't going to enforce it either. A couple hundred dollars for the average Gunn or Paly student isn't a big deal.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RacerX
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm

The Palo Alto Police have, by their own actions(in-actions) told the community that these laws are not important. We'll see if enforcement increases, but if not, I guess from reading some of the comments, that by its own in-actions, PA Police are saying its just fine to flaunt these rules meant to protect our teenager's lives.
Load up the cars w/ your buddies kids. Its Teen Summer driving season!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by LDC
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Both of my kids followed/are following the law, and did not drive/are not driving friends, and did not drive/are not driving after 11pm, for the first year. I think there are more kids who follow the law then you think.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm

As a student, this how it appears to me:
1) Most people follow the part about being home at 11 because it's noticeable. Parents will notice if their child is absent and the car not in the driveway, however, they will not be able to tell if two or three extra people were driven home as long as the car is returned on time. Many households have enforced curfews anyway, so it's not surprising that most of us teens follow this.
2) Very few people adhere to the part about not driving anyone (besides immediate family members) for the entire year. Almost everyone breaks it at least once. And many parents informally allow driving friends around after 6 months with the provisional license (more like what other states have; California has one of the most annoying procedures to get a license).
3) I have not heard of a police officer pulling anyone over because they look young. I have heard more about the uncommon instances in which they ticket you for running a stop-sign on a bike than I have of students being pulled over and asked for a license/permit. I assume this is due to some anti-profiling requirement but I don't really know.
4) Personally, I think certain students should be allowed to drive other students around. Everyone knows who the best (and worst) drivers are, and everyone knows who will cause a problem in the car (or won't). It's not exactly hard to tell which group a teen falls into - or at least not for me, but maybe that's because I'm a teen.
Also, I have been offered, on multiple occasions, rides from friends with provisional but not full licenses. I have not accepted any yet, but I assume that around when they hit 6 months with their license, I will. I suppose I will be breaking the law, but to me it feels a bit more like jaywalking than committing murder.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Misha
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Like another parent, I wrote up a contract which my daughter signed. She seemed to take it seriously, even negotiated a change (to which I agreed). The fact that she had to sign at least carried some moral weight. This way, expectations were clearly laid out in black and white. Did she always adhere? Honestly, no, but at least there was no question that she knew what was expected.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mario
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm

A few thoughts, and commments:

1) Very good cognitive science research shows that the human brain does not fully develop capacity for optimal cognition of forward consequences until the early, to mid-20's. With that, there should be a change in the law that forbids ANY driver to get a permit before 21. In essence, we have humans who don't forward cognate consequences, driving 2-ton killing machines. Sad.

2) Put a tracking device in the car, something that records location, speed traveled, etc.

3) Put a recording device in the car. If it is disabled, refuse driving privileges for 2 months. Watch behavior change.

4) Put teeth in the law. Anyone who breaks these laws, loses the right to drive for THREE YEARS, NO EXCEPTIONS!

5) Require drivers to pass parallel park and 3-point turn as part of their driving test. It's UNBELIEVABLE that these requirements no longer exist.

6) Make your kid pay for their own insurance, and buy their own gas.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mario
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Incidentally, new research shows that young drivers with peers present in the car are involved in the most accidents, especially young males.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mario
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm

1 in 3 teenagers ADMIT to texting while driving. Palo Alto police should come down HARD on ALL youthful driving offenders. It's time to stop coddling scofflaws who are putting others at risk. Get them off the road, and impose STIFF penalties!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Mario:
1) Some believe that the female brain develops more quickly than the male brain. Does this mean that females should be allowed to drive at 20-21ish while males at 25-26ish (although some speculate it takes until 28, a few 30). Females also have better driving records, at least in the teen years. Does this mean that we should be able to get permits sooner?

2) Collision rates of those 65+ are also higher. Should we kick them off the roads, too?

3) First, for clarification: Are these devices put on adult cars too or not? If not, how do you track a car driven both by a teenager and adult? If I buy my own car as a teenager, must I still be stalked (by your recording devices and whatnot)? What will be the legal liability for crimes confessed, unintentionally, in front of the recording? Who has the ability to listen to the recording? Can parents listen in? Are emancipated minors also effected by the theoretical mandate of recording devices? Do law enforcement officers need warrants to listen to conversations had over the device? How do you determine whether it was/wasn't a technological error that disabled the device? Is it waterproof? What about international drivers, can they not rent cars if they're 21+? Do we not recognize their licenses? Imagine the legal mess that your suggestion would cause....

4) Three point turn is reasonable but parallel parking isn't as much so. One of my parents is nearly incapable of parallel parking, however, (s)he have only been in 1 car accident after 25+ years behind the wheel (and the accident was when a drunk driver rammed into a stoppe car at a red light and that car went forward, etc. (S)he was the 5th car in line and received a bump).

5) Three years of no driving? Do you comprehend how excessive this is? I suppose the taxi business would thank you, but really? What would a single working person do? Get up 3 hours earlier and try to get, by Greyhound bus or something, to work? Pay an expensive taxi ride?

6) I've considered college abroad. Should this be instituted, I would definitely leave the U.S. and maybe return only after getting an international license and turning 21. I would keep in contact with the anti-Big-Brother lobbying organizations, though. Currently, I disagree with many of their stances, however, I would forgive this for their help fighting against your absurd standards.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bill kelly
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2012 at 6:40 am

The driving law says that parents can give written permission to drive siblings or drive to work. We wrote a permission slip for our oldest daughter explicitly and ONLY to drive her brother and sister, We then insisted that each of our three children don't drive friends until they had their year; it seemed like we were the only parents who cared, HOWEVER, in all cases I think they were better drivers for having waited. Learning to drive in the first year doesn't mix well with friends.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 12, 2012 at 6:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I've considered college abroad. Should this be instituted, I would definitely leave the U.S. and maybe return only after getting an international license"

Getting an international driver's license requires that you first have an unrestricted national license. And getting even a learner's permit in countries like the UK is MUCH more difficult than getting a restricted driver's license in the US.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 12, 2012 at 8:23 am

It is interesting to see that we have now got into comparisons with other countries' rules and laws for young drivers. Generally speaking, the US has one of the easiest tests to pass plus allows behind the wheel driving on a permit at 15 1/2. Googling around on the subject it is very apparent that 17 appears to be the minimum age for getting a permit and the restrictions on newly licensed drivers include no freeway driving and various forms of L plates (signifying that the driver is a learner) so that other drivers can be prepared for their mistakes.

I strongly suspect that our lenient rules for young drivers will at some stage continue to be made stiffer. Teenagers will probably complain, but the rest of us may be that little bit safer as a result.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 12, 2012 at 9:27 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In the UK you first have to pass a Theory and Hazards Perception Test as described here:

Web Link


Then you take a driving test that makes the California test look like child's play:

Web Link

Most first time applicants FAIL.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

My kids had to adhere to the law during the time that they had restrictions. There were no exceptions. They were OK with abiding by the restrictions because they saw the problems being generated by their friends who were breaking the law.

It helped that the car they were allowed to drive was a beat-up and rather ugly sedan. They weren't interested in showing it off. The kids I see violating the law are driving new cars; apparently their parents have more money to throw around than I do.

My kids had to pay for gas and for half of their insurance, along with basic maintenance (oil changes, tune ups, smog check). That was all part of my teaching them various adult responsibilities. They are both out of college now and appear to be managing their lives pretty well.

I look back on some of the things they did as teens and recognize that my kids lived by higher standards than most of their peers, but they seem to be thriving now as adults.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

> When reminding my own teen about not giving rides to friends
> or
> being home by 11.00 pm with the car


I am pretty sure you meant to say "AND"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 12, 2012 at 11:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I look back on some of the things they did as teens and recognize that my kids lived by higher standards than most of their peers, but they seem to be thriving now as adults."

This is an example of what parents should be doing - thank you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carol
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Use common sense. That's a simple answer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I can tell you that the vast majority of the kids don't obey the restriction. Parents are only kidding themselves if they think their child obeys the rules. Our daughter no longer has a restricted license, but when she did, we found out she drove other friends the second day she had her license. We knew from other parents that this was going to happen, so we simply told her when we found out, "If you do it you will face the fines, etc. Just drive safely so you won't have a reason to get pulled over." Another parent (whose son is my daughter's friend) told me "My son never drives other kids" at a swim meet. I asked my daughter if he did and she said "Of course he drives other kids--he just drove me to get lunch yesterday."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by local gurl
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm

There have been two national news stories in the last few months about kids driving other kids around at 1 and 2 a.m., where there was a horrible accident and multiple fatalities. We HAVE TO enforce these rules with respect to driving restrictions or risk our kids' lives.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mario
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 13, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Surveillance cameras in every car! If you mess up, you get a fine. Why not? What are you afraid of?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"we simply told her when we found out, "If you do it you will face the fines, etc. Just drive safely so you won't have a reason to get pulled over."

Sorry, but that is NOT responsible parenting. What you are saying is that it is OK to break the law but just don't get caught. To you have the same position on drugs, rape, murder, tax evasion, etc.?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent of 3 teenagers
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm

We expect and require our kids to follow both the 11 pm rule and no driving anyone during the first year rule.

This is very simple -- it's the law. Moreover, there is ample data to show that these rules prevent accidents. And it's very helpful that the law requires your kid to be home by 11!

If your kid comes home and says that everyone else is drinking and doing drugs, are you going to let him drink and do drugs?!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Parent of 3 teenagers - I would venture to guess that most parents of teenagers with restricted licenses have told their kids that they were not allowed to drive anyone else. I've seen some of these kids with a car load at McDonalds at lunch. I've seen the son of VERY strict, cautious parents with more kids in his car than seat belts just a few days after getting his license.

Teenagers push the limits and take risks. We do not need to condone it, but we shouldn't be surprised when they do either.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"We do not need to condone it, but we shouldn't be surprised when they do either."

But the teenagers need to be very surprised when you catch them and impose penalties - that is what will change behavior, and save lives.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Easy Living
By Sally Torbey | 11 comments | 2,369 views

I Told My Mom She's Dying
By Chandrama Anderson | 10 comments | 2,227 views

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,323 views

Fancy Fast and Fun!
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 759 views

Campaign Endorsements: Behind the Curtain
By Douglas Moran | 1 comment | 445 views