Should We Restrict Teen Drivers' Access to High Powered Cars?

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz

New York regional media are reporting a terrible tragedy from late last night. A car was speeding on the highway when it struck the guard rail and subsequently flipped over (drivers frequently react to hitting the guard rail by jerking the wheel in the opposite direction; creating the flip). Two passengers were killed and the other three are critically injured. And the entire accident was the avoidable result of several very bad decisions. The car was a Dodge Charger SRT8. With 425 horsepower and rear-wheel drive, it's hardly suited for high-speed driving in bad weather. Its owner, the driver, is a 17-year old kid with a junior license (he shouldn't have been driving the car at all under NYC law at that time of night). What's worse, the junior license was suspended. It's unclear whether the Charger SRT8 had popular summer tires. Side airbags are optional on the SRT8, though they'd have done nothing to prevent the roof from collapsing. The wrong car for the wrong person in the wrong weather. Should anything be done?

Justin Berkowitz
Justin Berkowitz

Immensely bored law student. I've also got 3 dogs.

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  • Nopanegain Nopanegain on Dec 06, 2007

    From the pictures I saw of the accident, the Dodge appeared to be wearing aftermarket shoes. As with most large aftermarket wheel purchases, I am pretty sure the kid (or mom) did not go out and choose M+S.

  • Rufireproof Rufireproof on Dec 07, 2007

    A few days ago we had a 19 yr old tear a VW Jetta in half while trying to pass someone on icy roads. He had a head on with an oncoming truck, killing the driver of the pickup truck. The VW driver and his passenger were airlifted and listed in critical condition. The accident tore the back half off the car, and left the engine laying in the roadway. the halves of the car landed 30 ft apart. Kids are going to drive stupid, no matter what you give them. No "HP" limit or "HP/Weight ratio" is going to fix that. Fewer video games/movies glorifying driving like a retard would be a good start

  • Geeber Geeber on Dec 07, 2007
    David Holzman: I don’t know what the solution to this sort of problem is. Does this happen in Germany, UK, and France? If not, what’s different, and is it something we can do here? Don't know about France or the United Kingdom, but in Germany people aren't eligible for a license until they turn 18, and it costs lots of time and money to get one. Interestingly, Germans drive faster than we do, even on those parts of the Autobahn with a speed limit. But I sense a greater respect for speed and what cars can do over there. (They are also much more interested in the technical aspect of cars, and would never make vehicles like the F-150 or Camry best sellers.) People take driving more seriously (no yakking on the cell phone, for example), and have a more "mature" view of speed. They aren't running around squawking that "speed kills," but they don't glorify "hooning," either. Fast driving is seen as a pleasurable, safe and rapid way to get where you are going, and both cars and drivers are expected to have the capabilities necessary to handle it when on the Autobahn.
  • Confused1096 Confused1096 on Dec 07, 2007

    Should teenagers be given access to cars like this? No. Do we need a law stating it? No. It is up to the parents to determine what their offspring drive. These parents made a poor choice. My own children can look forward to a slow, underperforming tank, preferably with a manual transmission, as their first vehicle.