Should New Drivers Be Required to Sport Identifying Car Magnet?

You may have seen a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution over the weekend about a new movement that’s gaining ground. The movement would require that all young drivers sport a sign on their cars that reads: “Caution – Newly Licensed.”

Susie Kessler, of Kennesaw, got the idea for the magnets when her son, Donne, began learning to drive in Atlanta’s hectic traffic. Kessler’s other children had learned to drive on less crowded Ohio roads and Kessler, rightfully, worried about her child’s safety. That was when she and some friends decided to start the Caution and Courtesy Driver Alliance. The campaign, which began in 2007, has distributed about 15,000 magnets, which cost less than $10, so far.

These magnets are a step in the right direction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers aged 16-20. That averages out to about 5,000 children per year. That’s almost 14 per day. If that wasn’t bad enough, 300,000 additional teens are injured every year. And Kessler was right to be concerned about her son Donne’s safety on the road. Twice as many teenage boys as teenage girls die in auto accidents.

The magnet, 4 by 8 inches, is highly visible and can be seen here. According to Kessler and a bevy of satisfied parents on her website, the magnets caution other drivers to avoid tailgating or other aggressive behavior that may be just too much for a new driver to handle.

The “Caution – Newly Licensed” magnets also caught the attention of state Senator Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), who told the AJC he’s considering writing a bill requiring all new teen drivers to brandish the stickers on their cars. The law would possibly cover all first year drivers as well as those with learner’s permits. It sounds like a good idea, but historically teen driving laws have not fared well in the Georgia legislature. Last year a bill to ban teen drivers from using cell phones while driving failed to pass.

Visit the Caution and Courtesy Driver Alliance site to order a magnet for your teen’s car. Be sure to visit the NewlyLicensed.org comments page for feedback from satisfied parents, teens and drivers.

As for the teens themselves, Kessler’s son, at least, thinks that the magnet is doing its job.

“In driver’s education we learned about the ‘space cushion’ that should be between cars,” he told the AJC. “When you have the magnet on, you automatically have that.”

There’s probably no better testament to the efficacy of the magnets than that.

How about you? Are you contemplating buying a “Caution – Newly Licensed” magnet for your teenager? Or do you already have one? Have you seen them around town and “backed off”? We’d love to hear your story in the comments.