Teen Drivers

Car Talk

Speeding and Driver Error

It's very tempting to speed. It's exciting in the same way a roller coaster is exciting. And we know that teens seek thrills. While we can acknowledge the temptation to speed, we can't permit it. We know that an inexperienced driver -- even a good one like your kid -- is very likely to screw up and have an accident. And if we can't prevent that accident, our goal is to keep it from being deadly or disabling, either to our own child, or another innocent person.

We'd suggest you consider using two categories: speeding, and excessive speeding, which most authorities define as at least 25 mph over the posted speed limit.

Speeding itself is bad news, and is grounds for punishment or loss of privileges, in our humble opinion. It indicates that the driver doesn't have adequate respect for the laws of physics, and doesn't understand that loss of control can happen very quickly and unpredictably, and that when accidents happen when you're speeding, every facet of the outcome is going to be worse.

Excessive speeding, on the other hand, is the sign of more serious problems: a lack of the necessary maturity required to be behind a wheel, and a blatant disregard for reasonable ground rules. We recommend the severest penalties for excessive speeding, and a serious re-evaluation of whether this kid is ready to drive yet.

Define Speeding. Obviously, speeding tickets and warnings from police offers are admissible evidence. But we also suggest including credible reports from friends and neighbors, who may witness signs of trouble before you do.

We recommend an email or note to friends and neighbors in town, letting them know that your kid is a new driver, and saying that you'd like to be informed if they see any driving behavior that concerns them.

Notifying these groups also lets your kid know that other people are watching, even while the local constabulary is keeping the peace at the local donut shop.