In Connecticut, not too long ago, anyone over the age of 18 who did not yet have a driver’s license, could go down to the Department of Motor Vehicles, take the test and get a full-fledged driver’s license. No need to deal with the hassles and restrictions of a learner’s permit-just get in their car and drive away.

In fact, knowledge of this fact was so widespread that many teenagers were not rushing out to get their learner’s permit at all. Instead they waited until they were 18 and just went down to get a regular driver’s license.

Unfortunately, just because they were two years older didn’t automatically make them safe drivers. Just the opposite. They were missing out on two years of limited driving experience aimed at helping them become safer drivers. Without that experience they had all the freedom of more experienced drivers without the training.

This year Connecticut lawmakers have out an end to that practice. Starting January 1, all first time drivers in the state, regardless of age, will begin with a learner’s permit. This will afford them an opportunity to gain some experience behind the wheel before being allowed to drive any time of the night or day, and to drive without supervision.

The learner’s permit program, in use by every state, was not meant to punish young drivers, but to give them time to adjust to the rigors of safe driving. It sets limits on when they can drive and with whom, so as to limit distractions and establish safety parameters. By circumventing the learner’s permit program young people weren’t “beating the system” as much as they were endangering their lives and the lives of everyone sharing the road with them.

Considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still consider vehicle collisions to be the number one cause of death for young people in America, it seems the new Connecticut is taking aim at a very serious problem, with good cause.