Douglas R. Horn, a twenty-year veteran Kansas City crash attorney, is proposing a change in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws to give parents a more engaging role in training teen drivers. He calls for “parental endorsement” on all intermediate level driver’s license to give them the authority to properly educate the youth, and hold them responsible for their behind-the-wheel behavior.
Now, this obviously isn’t what teen drivers want. Having the parents supervising their training during the first stages of the program makes sense, but to have them engaged during the entire process is definitely not a welcome change for kids. To them, the driver’s license means freedom to go anywhere they want on their own. If anything, they would like to ditch the supervision sooner!
But Horn says, and he does have a point, that a proper teen driver protection program with full parental engagement – providing they have access to educational materials and procedures themselves – can have a big effect in reversing the uptrend in teen driver fatalities, as seen in Massachusetts:
“The Massachusetts GDL law requires that parents of new teen drivers attend a two-hour class to brush up on the rules of the road and review safe driving practices,” says Horn. “By taking part in this training session, parents are better prepared to intelligently instruct and advise their child during their child’s 40 hours of parentally-supervised highway driving required by the state.”
That’s why the GDL laws in all states should be be enhanced to provide parents and legal guardians the training and educational materials needed to ensure their child’s successful participation throughout all stages of the GDL program. Parents usually tend not to get that involved with the training for whatever reason; either they are busy, or the teens are hard to deal with. But the parental endorsement proposal will hold them accountable:
The parental endorsement consists of the parent’s name, signature and contact information on back of the license. By putting their endorsement on the teen’s license, the parent certifies not only that they have been instructed on and understand the GDL laws and the traffic laws that their child must adhere to, but they also certify that they understand their role as chief enforcer of the state GDL law,” he says. “Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the endorsement signifies that the parent and teen have officially entered into a safe-driving joint partnership behind-the-wheel.