When you look at the majority of laws, they are designed to reduce the situations in which people are likely to be injured. This reflects one of the most important duties of lawmakers. That they should act to protect people from harm even though this may inconvenience some citizens. It’s the old utilitarian justification that laws should maximize happiness and reduce suffering. So, for example, if too many people are being injured in a workplace environment, regulations will force a change to the processes to reduce the risk of injury. If this means the factory owners must spend money, this is like a safety tax. The money is spent in making everyone safer. Of course there are going to be times when the processes are too dangerous and the factories must shut down. This will produce unemployment and hardship. But, in a well-ordered state, new industry will come to fill in the gap. Communities will recover.
Reducing risk applied to driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more US teens die in car crashes than in any other way. Go back to 2010 and you will find seven teens a day died and 282,000 were injured in the year. Statistically, teen drivers are three times more likely to be killed than any other age group. Here’s the situation in Australia:
Why is this? They are:
• more easily distracted;
• more likely to try impressing their peers;
• drive at more dangerous times of the day;
• more likely to drink alcohol or do drugs;
• more likely to have distracting passengers.
Stop giving driver’s licenses to teens
Despite the NRA, the majority of parents do not give their children loaded guns to use unsupervised, so why do we allow children as young as fourteen (as in Iowa and South Dakota) to get behind the wheel of a car? According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it would be better to wait until the age of seventeen before granting an intermediate license (as in New Jersey) with a restriction on driving at night.
Even though Iowa and South Dakota have small populations and driving is a more essential skill, the need to cut deaths outweighs convenience. There’s a clear need to prevent the young from driving and lawmakers should confront families. This is a very simple choice. Do we really want to see our fourteen to seventeen year olds continue to kill themselves?
Lawmakers directly interfere in the way people organize their lives when it’s necessary to reduce suffering. Parents are distraught when their children are injured or killed. The teen peer group is distressed when fellow school students die or are injured. Teen drivers have to live with guilt when they injure or kill others. The teens who are seriously injured have to endure the pain. The British Government is now discussing whether to increase the age at which the young can learn to drive to eighteen. Why is there no comparable discussion in America. How many of our children have to die before lawmakers will act?