Unintended Consequences of Government Policies

As part of the government If You See Something Do Something campaign many states have enacted restrictions against young drivers. The government saw that young drivers were involved in more accidents than older drivers and decided that something must be done (to protect the children) so they decided to jump into enacted legislation that restricted various actions that younger drivers were allowed to take. What these bureaucrats never stopped to consider was the possibility that inexperience, and not merely age, was the root cause of the higher accident rates among younger drivers. As Bruce Schneier points out it appears as though inexperience may be the actual problem:

For more than a decade, California and other states have kept their newest teen drivers on a tight leash, restricting the hours when they can get behind the wheel and whom they can bring along as passengers. Public officials were confident that their get-tough policies were saving lives.

Now, though, a nationwide analysis of crash data suggests that the restrictions may have backfired: While the number of fatal crashes among 16- and 17-year-old drivers has fallen, deadly accidents among 18-to-19-year-olds have risen by an almost equal amount. In effect, experts say, the programs that dole out driving privileges in stages, however well-intentioned, have merely shifted the ranks of inexperienced drivers from younger to older teens.

All these restrictions have managed to accomplish is kicking the can down the road for a couple of years. Since 16 and 17 year-old kids aren’t allowed to drive at night they are unable to gain experience at driving in the dark so when they finally are legally able to do so they make mistakes.

So what’s the solution? I would say we should remove these laws as it’s been demonstrated that they aren’t increasing safety but simply pushing the problem down the road. But then we have those people out there that subscribe to the belief that if something doesn’t work we need to try it again, only harder:

McCartt said the solution may be to expand graduated driver licensing programs to include 18- and 19-year-olds who are getting behind the wheel for the first time. The idea isn’t without precedent: In New Jersey, such rules apply to all initial driver’s license applicants under the age of 21.

“The concept of easing drivers into riskier driving situations could apply to older teens as well,” she said.

But Males, who has studied California’s program, said it was inappropriate to impose such restrictions on legal adults and noted that the rules could disqualify them from holding certain jobs.

“That’s a terrible idea,” he said. “That’s saying the programs didn’t work, so we’ll have to make them even stronger.”

Yes that must be the solution! By Thor in Valhalla we may need to go so far as to put these restrictions in place on people as old as 50 years of age!

One thought on “Unintended Consequences of Government Policies”

  1. Another fine illustration of a room full of overlords that can’t even do their job right imposing more rules and restrictions on the peasants because the overlords believe they know what’s best for everyone.

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