I was tooling around my bank’s website the other day when a poll caught my eye. The poll asked to gauge my support for the federal STANDUP Act. Being a libertarian, my natural state of balance leans hard away from most kinds of federal action. But in order to appear reasonable, I thought I would at least read the article before voting.
The STANDUP Act seeks to impose Washington’s will on every soon-to-be driver. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, would like to strip states of their inherent right to dictate licensing terms for young drivers. Implied in this legislation is that state legislatures and governors, elected by the people, lack the expertise, obviously enjoyed by their federal counterparts, to enact and administer a teenage licensing system. Yes, the U.S. Congress, brimming with years of experience and firsthand knowledge of administering driver’s licensing programs will strip yet another right away from the states.
As you may know, each state fashions its own licensing requirements. (after all, states issue a driver’s licenses, not the feds) Some states allow drivers to sit for a learner’s permit as young as 14, while others require youngsters to be at least 16. Some states employ a graduate driver’s license or GDL. The GDL system utilize phases and restrictions normally over the course of a few years before granting full driving privileges. Initial studies have indicated that GDL systems better equip young drivers with good driving skills, thus preventing accidents. Now Congress would like every state to adopt a single standard – the famous one-size-fits-all approach.
Of course, Washington has no Constitutional power to force the states into action, but they’ll use something just as compelling: federal highway funds. Fail to adopt our ways and we withhold cash for your roads. For once, I’d love for a state to tell Congress to keep their laws and money and go pack sand.
One-size-fits-all legislation rarely works, and it won’t work here. Do New York City drivers face the same obstacles, circumstances, and challenges as Idaho drivers? No. Do West Virginia drivers and Kansas drivers encounter the same driving challenges? No.
Here’s how I see it. As the parent, you can impose any number of restrictions on your kid as you see fit. Just because the state says my kid can drive at age 16 doesn’t necessarily mean she will. I will be the judge of her driving abilities, and I will determine when, where, and how she drives. I say Congress needs to Stand Down and butt out of my state’s business and mine.