The [Thursday] Papers
Teenagers have the Tribune to thank this morning for making their lives even more miserable than they already are when it comes to overbearing adult supervision.
As a result of the paper's teen driving series, both the Illinois House and Senate have now approved legislation that "would make Illinois' licensing program among the nation's most stringent," the Sun-Times reports.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to sign the measure into law.
Not everything in the bill is objectionable, though it hardly seems as if a Teen Driver Safety Task Force convened by Secretary of State Jesse White 10 months ago was really necessary.
Then again, White and state legislators weren't about to look a cheap political gift handed to them by the state's biggest media concern in the mouth. Not only is this apple pie legislation, but teens don't vote.
The three key provisions cited by the Tribune are the ones that are most unreasonable.
* Driving curfews for teens under 18 will switch from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and from midnight to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
"Why?" the Tribune explains. "Research shows risk of fatal crashes for 16- and 17-year-old drivers increases after 9 p.m."
I have a feeling research also shows that the risk of fatal crashes increases for all drivers after 9 p.m., but that just begs the question: Why not start the curfew at 9 then?
Wait, what am I saying? Teen driving curfews? I hate to switch into "when I was young" mode, but when I was young growing up in suburban Minneapolis, there was no such thing. I can't imagine not being able to, say, drive my friends home from a movie that ends at 11 on a Thursday night. And other things.
* For one year, instead of six months, drivers under 18 will only be allowed one teenage passenger.
"Why?" the Tribune again explains. "Statistics show the risk of fatal crashes for 16-year-olds climbs with each additional passenger."
For the rest of us, too. But we've had our fun. I mean, Baby Boomers had their American Graffiti. Look at how much they swoon over Grease. Those are high school kids cruising. Many of them are under 18 - and out past 11 on a Friday night. Please. If you really want to eliminate risk, lock them in their rooms. But make sure they don't listen to that rock and roll while they're in there!
* The learner's permit stage will be extended from three months to nine months.
"Why? Experts say more adult-supervised driving makes for safer teens at the wheel."
Why not a year, then? Why not forever?
Sometimes I think adult legislators ought to be supervised by teens for at least a year. Adult journalists, too.
It's not that I'm oblivious to the tragedy of teen driving deaths - though the Tribune's own reporting shows how rare they actually are - and that there is no upward trend.
There are all sorts of things we can do to improve road safety. I'm not sure clamping down on teenagers is among the most important and effective in a world filled with drunk driving adults and in a state where unqualified truckers were put on the road in exchange for campaign contributions for years and driver's licenses were had for five bucks on the seat.
I'm always more concerned about what the adults are up to than the kids.
The portrait the paper paints is of a governor rarely in Springfield but often spotted jogging near his home in Ravenswood.
The governor is also curtailing his availability to the media, though it's not clear he's even calling his own shots anymore.
"During his most recent public appearance at a health care rally, Blagojevich asked a staff member if he should answer reporters' questions, but was told no," the DH reports.
Meanwhile, the Sun-Times today followed the Tribune's story on Wednesday about one of the continuing federal investigations surrounding the governor by asking in a headline if Blagojevich was "The Next Ryan?"
Don & Con
The mayor pretended not to care - but not very well.
"They can look into anything they want," he said. "It's up to them. I was not mayor or superintendent during all of that time."
No. He was the Cook County State's Attorney.
"Everyone wants to go to heaven," Miller said," but no one wants to die."
The Beachwood Tip Line: Heaven-sent.
Posted on May 24, 2007
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