Today's news article that grabbed me the most was the one about a local 17 year old Mullumbimby boy, who barely escaped jail for what can only be considered a really stupid act! He was clocked by police driving his car at 205km/h with a car load of teens! He wasn't the only one caught that week either, in fact there were 5 of them in just three days... to quote from the Tweed/Byron Police on facebook ~ "Multiple high speed detections - A total of 5 high speed detections on the Pacific Highway, Cudgera Creek between 1/9/11 & 4/9/11... 1/9 - 22 year old checked at speed of 206kph... 2/9 - 23 year old checked at 194kph... A second 23 year old was also checked at 187kph... 3/9 - 17 year old checked at 205kph... 4/9 - 20 year old checked at 184kph" ... ALL DRIVERS WERE MALE!!
What is the go with young guys and stupid behaviour in cars?
So, the 17 year old Mullum boy went to court yesterday and lucky for him, the Magistrate declined to impose the maximum nine-month prison sentence on the basis that he is only 17 years old and has a clean record. He then disqualified the boy's licence for three years, imposed a two-year good-behaviour bond and issued a stern warning "If you appear in here again whether you are 17 or not, you can expect to go to prison."
But is this good enough? Or should he have thrown the book at this boy and sent a clear warning to others, that if they drive like this, then they should expect to be jailed!
And I've got to ask where the Magistrate gets his idea of a clean record... the boy is only 17! What kind of record should he have at that age? Maybe if he hadn't been caught, he could have clocked up a human road kill or two in the next year or so!
In the 'Burden of Disease and Injury in Australians' aged 15-24 (2003), Road Traffic Accidents rank and the second highest burden in males and the 6th highest cause in females. (The Burden of Disease is a combined measure of premature death and years lived with disability caused by an illness or injury.) That is a pretty gobsmacking thing! I wonder how many young people know that?
So what is the solution to the problems of young people and erratic behaviour in vehicles?
Maybe we should be making driving lessons and road safety a compulsory subject in high school. There are so few 'life skills' taught to young people in schools and yet, there are so many irrelevant subjects forced upon them that they will never use in the real world.
Maybe we should also be electronically speed limiting their cars until the age of 25, or even 30 if the statistics on the human road toll for that age group are taken into account.
There are reasons why they have placed restrictions on how young people are allowed to drive, including limiting the number of passengers they are allowed to carry, and a lot of this has come from what we have learned about the teenage brain and its development. The pre-frontal cortex does not finish developing until the late 20's in males and a bit earlier in females. This is the area of the brain that is crucial for rational decision making, multi-tasking, weighing outcomes, forming correct judgements, controlling impulses and our emotions. It is the part of the brain that tells us to put the brakes on when we're out of control.... and it is the part of the brain that is still growing through those teen, adolescent and young adult years.
When I was growing up, my Grandfather wouldn't let me go for my licence, until he had taught me everything that he knew about what can go wrong in a vehicle. He took me out onto country roads, dirt roads, loose gravel, wet roads and made sure that I knew how to handle a car in any condition. He also taught me how to change a tyre, check the oil and water, know how much air pressure my tyres should have, listen for strange sounds from the car and so much more. He made me learn how to squeeze the car into the tightest parks, to make sure I checked exactly how I had parked, how far from the curb, perfectly in between the lines, how far away from the corner I needed to be, and of course reverse parking and hand brake take off's on hills had to be perfect.
If only my Grandfather was still alive! I would have him write the curriculum that they should teach our kids in high school... maybe it could save lives!!
Life is short... do it right and make it matter...
James Dean died at the age of 24 - That day, he was pulled over by police at 3.30pm for speeding. After being stopped, he continued on his way. Two hours later, at around 5.30pm his roaring Porsche had a near head-on collision with another car. This photo shows what was left of his car, nicknamed the "Little Bastard".
The link below will take you to a youtube video from TACVictoria... a timely reminder why we all need to take it easy on the roads... the lives of others depend on it.