Would You Help Your Kids Cheat to Get a Driver’s License?

A reader named Ari writes from Israel:

Recently the Israel Government voted to change the minimum age for getting a driver’s license. Here is a snippet from an article in Ha’aretz (headlined “Israel to Lower Driving Age, but Tack on Period of Mandatory Supervision”):
The earliest age to start driving lessons will remain 16 and a half. The period of driving accompanied by an adult will have to cover at least 50 hours, 20 of them on urban streets, 15 hours on inter-urban roads and 15 hours of driving at night. The novice driver will have to have an adult chaperone at all hours of the day during the first three months but only at night during the second three months. After the novice driver and the accompanying person sign a declaration that the accompanied driving requirement has been fulfilled properly, the new driver will be given a young driver’s license.
I’m curious as to how the honor system is going to work here. If my child’s license were to depend on my declaration, what are the chances that I would fudge? How would the governing agency know? It seems to be unverifiable. I assume that there will be some internet-based form with a checkbox and maybe some number to fill in (number of hours driven night / day / rain / …) I believe that forcing a person to write his own declaration would make it more difficult for him to lie.

I wrote back to Ari:

Of course it may be that no one has a stronger incentive to make sure a kid gets all his training than the parent of said kid!

 To which he replied:

As a father of eight kids, I’m more interested in the kid getting his license, and this is not because I have kids to spare, but because lessons costs a huge amount of money here. Between you me and the big blue sea, I think I’d fudge.

What would you do (assuming, perhaps, that you have fewer kids than Ari)? Also: if you are a parent of a novice driver, would you be more or less nervous if the vehicle your kid is learning to drive can also operate autonomously?

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  1. Jordan says:

    This was 10 years ago, but I live in a US state where the youth requirements to obtaining a license requires so many hours (I think it was 30) of accompanied driving. I’d be surprised if more than half the class actually did anything even close to the time.

    In the six months between permit and driver’s test, as I remember the family’s driving habits then, it was essentially impossible for us to do enough for me to be behind the wheel for that many hours. And yet, I had my driver’s test six months after getting my permit.

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  2. Jack says:

    With this and the podcast on the Kaczynski brothers there is a mini theme emerging about family loyalty vs loyalty to the law and your neighbours. It would be interesting to see if Dubner could use his Freakonomics to tell us exactly how much thicker blood is than water.

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  3. Rob Carlson says:

    In Maryland the accompanying adult must sign on penalty of the loss of their own license that the practice hours listed are true and accurate. Also it requires the weather conditions for each practice session listed, so there’s at least some data that could be validated.

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  4. Matt says:

    The requirement is similar in PA (50 hours with a chaperone in the front seat, parent signs a form verifying). My mom sent me to my test after less than six hours driving because she hated doing it, while my girlfriend’s parents made her do over a hundred fifty before they let her take the test. This “requirement” seems similar to the “suggested donation” at a museum in terms of how much weight it carries and how many people will follow it.

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  5. Sharon says:

    Wow. Well, I live in Israel, too, and I can tell you that I would NOT fudge no matter how much money it costs (and it is expensive). In fact I probably would make them drive extra hours with me if I weren’t sure they were ready.

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  6. Seminymous Coward says:

    Driver’s licenses in my state require a number of practice hours under a learner’s permit with a licensed driver over a set age in the car. There’s no attempt at verification beyond the word and possibly signature of the parent. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

    Every instance I have any reason to know about involved the learner actually getting the experience, frequently several times over. The learner always wants to practice, and I’ve never spoken on this subject with a parent that didn’t prefer to supervise as much of the early driving as possible.

    There’s a separate requirement for professional instruction before granting the learner’s permit. That’s fairly expensive, but it requires documentation from a company registered to do it with the state; therefore, I don’t think it’s easy to avoid without waiting for the direct-to-license age. Even if Israel lets the parent do that part personally, I can’t imagine a parent irresponsible enough to skip it entirely. What’s the alternative, pointing out a few controls and wishing the kid good luck?

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  7. anonymous says:

    Back in the 70’s when gas was cheap, I spent countless hours with parents, relatives, and friends driving around the back roads to get in my time. Years went by before I got my license, though. I was swell at driving in straight lines on the turnpike and down country roads, it was the parallel parking, merging, and city driving that tripped me up. For that I had to take a few driving lessons, also cheap at the time.

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  8. JimFive says:

    I’m not sure how the cost of lessons figures in here. Presumably you pay for and take the lessons first and then the accompanied driving log starts. Beyond that, a log sheet would go a long way toward encouraging compliance and catching cheaters. But, really, after the lessons the parent and child’s interest in being a “good enough” driver is more compelling that the state’s interest in having “good enough” drivers.

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