More Jackson County Opinions...

December 20, 2000


Column
By Adam Fouche
The Jackson Herald
December 20, 2000

Require driver's ed
While no one can dispute the fact that many of Georgia's teenagers die each year in automobile crashes, the method to lower those fatalities draws disagreement.
Some will contend that teenagers' driving privileges should be delayed until the teen is more mature. Certainly, the argument sounds sensible on the surface.
But I have long been an opponent of restrictive driving or delaying the driving age. I cannot agree that limiting a person's driving responsibilities will make him a better driver. In fact, I would argue quite the opposite.
Age does not determine or predict a person's success as a driver. However, knowledge and experience does.
True, a 16-year-old driver does not and cannot have experience, or much driving knowledge for that matter. But delaying the issuance of a license won't develop experience or knowledge either.
Experience can't be totally gained by a young driver. Sure, I have experience. I'm a 20-year-old driver. However, I cannot say I have the driving experience of my boss or my grandfather.
But I do have some experience. Why? Because I have been driving since I was 16. Had my full driving privileges been delayed until I was 18, I wouldn't have the experience I have now nor would I be as good of a driver.
Delaying the licensing age is detrimental and only destroys the development of driving experience that shapes a safe driver. Take that away from a 16-year-old and you're only creating a breed of inexperienced 18-year-olds. The problem doesn't go away, it only shifts to a higher age group.
To further substantiate my position, raising the driving age will eliminate the opportunity for many young people to work. For some people, it's not a problem. I had to work when I was 16 and there are many other teenagers who must also work.
And I doubt many retail stores and restaurants would be willing to sacrifice the teenage workers that occupy cheap, entry-level positions.
The solution to the problem, as I see it, lies with driver's education. My high school offered driver's ed as an extracurricular activity that cost money-money I didn't have. Therefore, I wasn't able to capitalize on the opportunity to become a better-educated driver.
However, if the legislature would make driver's ed a required high school course, then every young driver would have the opportunity to expand his knowledge and driving skill.
Governor Roy Barnes has toyed with the idea and for good reasons. More driving education leads to more driving competence which results in safer drivers.
Though I don't agree with delaying the driving age, I believe that tougher laws on teen drivers are effective and necessary. These laws, which impose harsher consequences for traffic violations and accidents, can effectively counter the effects of driver immaturity.
Teens won't break driving laws if they are afraid of the consequences. And those teens who aren't afraid of the consequences won't be afraid to drive anyway when you tell them they can't have a license until they're older.
The parents and lawmakers have good intentions-save the life of teenage drivers. But the methods are wrong.
More driver's education and even tougher penalities for breaking driving laws will produce safer teen drivers.
Delaying the driving age limits a young driver's opportunity to gain experience.
Don't limit experience. Instead, increase knowledge. Make driver's ed a mandatory high school course.

Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. His e-mail address is fouche@nbank.net.

 

Column
By Tim Thomas
The Jackson Herald
December 20, 2000


A Merry Christmas to all
With the holiday season reaching its peak this weekend, let me take time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
If we may take a moment to depart from sports talk, I'd also like to relate an incident from last week that brought out the true meaning of the holiday.
My wife accuses me of being a Christmas Grinch, which is probably true. I tire of the emphasis on shopping and hearing about how the true meaning of Christmas is family or helping others or any other such drivel. There is only one meaning to this holiday, and it is self-defined by is name: Christmas.
Last week I was honored to watch as my daughter and her preschool chums sang holiday songs for their families. The spirit of the season hadn't really struck me this year, perhaps not in several years, but hearing those children sing Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus brought tears to my eyes. When they followed up with O Come, All Ye Faithful and sang "O come, let us adore Him," I was greatly moved.
You can have all the cantatas and programs you want; nothing will beat that preschool program for delivering the real message of Christmas.

Now back to sports . . .
Given the accomplishments of recent weeks by local athletes, this space seems to be dedicated of late to dispensing congratulations. The incredible thing is that in all instances, the recognition is warranted.
Foremost congratulations this week to Commerce head football coach Steve Savage and all the Tigers, from players to coaches to fans, on an amazing season capped off in an amazing way.
Further congratulations to Monté Williams, for becoming the fourth-leading career rusher in the history of high school football in the nation. That's right - not state, nation. During Friday's title game, Williams surpassed the man thousands of kids see as a rushing icon, the Dallas Cowboys' Emmitt Smith, on the prep career list.
Another big pat on the back for the Jefferson basketball program. Bolling DuBose's boys set a new school single-game scoring record Friday with a 138-point effort against Tallulah Falls.
Individually, Buzz Wehunt, Jefferson's version of the Human Highlight Film, set a new single-game mark by shooting 76 percent from the field and scoring 60 in the game, surpassing the previous plateau reached by his brother, Richard.
It's been said before in this space, but bears repeating: we're greatly blessed with athletic talent in our area this year. Make every effort you can to take in a high school sporting event this winter. You'll meet some kids who are super in their respective events, and some who are even better off the court.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald. He may be reached at 367-2348, or via email at SpeckCh@aol.com.

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