The Jackson Herald
December 20, 2000
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Jackson Herald
December 20, 2000
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
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
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
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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