New DMV Restrictions Discriminate

Harvard News 4/25/83–Editorial – NEW DMV RESTRICTIONS DISCRIMINATE

By E. Randol Schoenberg, Editor-in-Chief

In Sacramento, the California State Legislature is attempting to pass restrictive legislation on 16 and 17 year old drivers. Their plans include a midnight-to-5 A.M. curfew, mandatory seat belt use, and a “provisional license.” The provisional license would allow the DMV to suspend a person’s license for six months, or put the driver on probation for violation of the curfew and belt laws. The provisional licenses will be more difficult to get than the licenses given out today. They will require more on-the-road training, an addition of ten questions to the thirty-six question driver’s tests, and closer inspection during the driving tests.

To justify the crackdown on young drivers, the DMV reported that, “while 16-and 17-year-olds make up only 2.5% of the drivers in California, this age group is responsible for 14.3% of the traffic accidents.” However, they forget to realize that 16- and 17-year olds are by definition first and second year drivers. It is obviously more likely for beginning drivers of any age to get into an accident. The DMV and the Legislature mistakenly perceive the driver’s age, rather than his experience as the cause for the high accident rate.

This sort of restriction, one that singles out a specific group for its part of a problem while ignoring other groups, is discriminatory. Using statistics, the Legislature could continue to restrict specific groups from privileges that others are allowed, thereby violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Belt laws and harder driving tests are not bad ideas. But they should apply to all drivers instead of just one small group. The curfew has been found constitutional, but the logic behind it is faulty. The purpose of the curfew is to keep 16- and 17-year olds off the streets to avoid accidents that often occur at that time. The DMV cites a study on four states with a curfew. The study noted a “substantial” reduction in accidents at that time. There is no doubt that this is true. But the cause of the reduction in accidents was obviously due to the decrease in drivers on the road at that time. If the goal is to reduce the number of car accidents, the Legislature should prohibit all driving. Then there would be “substantial” reduction in car accidents.

The main cause of the accidents involving 16- and 17-year olds and the main cause for this new legislation, however, is young motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It may be true that high school students are more reckless and more likely to drive under the influence, but whether it is true or not, the number of accidents caused by alcohol and drugs are appallingly high for 16- and 17-year olds. In 1981, 2056 drivers under eighteen were involved in alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes. If the statistics continue to find more young drivers involved in accidents, driving privileges will be taken away. Every student’s chance to enjoy the freedom of being able to drive is jeopardized by each person who endangers themselves and others by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is up to us to prove that we are responsible enough to drive and drive safely.


“News” and “Snooze”: Both Can Work

Harvard News 4/11/83–Editorial – “NEWS” AND “SNOOZE”: BOTH CAN WORK By E. Randol Schoenberg, Editor-in-Chief

With the appearance of an underground newspaper, the Harvard Snooze, a question has arisen in my mind concerning the purpose of our newspaper. Should our main function be to inform, entertain, or just to pat students on the back? Should we print only public-interest articles, including gossip and satirical slander, or should we print only straight, hard facts, news that everybody already knows? Could we print a mixture of the two and some thought-provoking editorials and cartoons? Should we avoid controversial issues or seek them out? These are all questions to be answered if this newspaper is to be considered a success.

In Los Angeles, there are two types of papers, the L.A. Times, which contains straight news, sports, features (Calendar), editorials, and cartoons; and the National Enquirer, filled with non-serious news, gossip, fads, and light features (boy with two heads, man with a hundred snakes, etc.). Some people feel the need to read both papers to be informed, others only need to read one or the other. But there has never been a successful mixture of the two types. To work, they must be separate.

That is why we printed all of our joke articles in one issue. If we had mixed them with serious news every issue, it would destroy the credibility of our paper. Who would know what to believe?

However, I do not deny that we need to expand our focus. Up until the Harvard Snooze, we had no idea what Harvard students wanted in the paper. Unfortunately, we still have only a vague idea. The Harvard Snooze did not show us what our paper should be like. Our newspaper’s main function is to report news, and I think we have an obligation to print news. But if Harvard students want a National Enquirer-type newspaper, they should have that, too.

I applaud the writers of the Harvard Snooze. They gave us something that Harvard needs: humor. And I hope they continue printing it. We will try our best to liven up our paper too, with cartoons, an “athlete of the issue,” and anything else we can think of, including perhaps some more controversial editorials. But we will always print the news, features, and sports that make a good, informative paper.

Harvard needs a Harvard News and a Harvard Snooze. They should both be interesting and entertaining, but with a somewhat different emphasis. I think we would all benefit from a regular printing of the Harvard Snooze. Furthermore, we at the Harvard News would frown upon any administration attempt to censor the Harvard Snooze. It is an expression of student opinion which is as valuable as anything else in our Harvard community.