Graduated Licensing and Seniors
By Stephanie Wall, Garden Valley Collegiate, Winkler MB
The Manitoba government has been talking recently about bringing in a Graduated Licensing system in which the main goal is to reduce the involvement of teenage drivers in motor vehicle crashes. In this system, full driving privileges are incorporated by stages, allowing beginner drivers to gain on-the-road experience outside of high-risk conditions. This system has its good points. Statistics show that drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have significantly higher crash rates compared to other age groups. Teenagers are also more likely to drive older and smaller vehicles, and they tend to not wear seatbelts, which can increase the severity of injuries in a car crash. I am in favour of these steps to make drivers safer and to decrease the number of teens involved in car crashes. However, I think that another age group has been overlooked.
If government leaders want to bring in a Graduated Licensing program for teens, fine. But I think that as drivers age, they should have to go for re-tests to keep their licenses. The goal of these tests would be to insure that older drivers are not a hazard to themselves or others while driving, and that they know how new developments, such as four-lane highways, work. Just as teen drivers need to be informed and taught properly, so do seniors. After all, skills change over time. If seniors fail to pass the driver's test, training similar to the teenage-driver education program should be available to help them become safe drivers. They must remember that they were once in the teenager stage too, and that the most important factor is safety for themselves and others.