Dear Amy:

I have three teenagers.

In our state we have very specific, strict driver's license laws for our 16- and 17-year-olds, one being that new drivers may not have anyone in the car with them for the first three months after obtaining a driver's license, and then only one relative can be in the car with them for the next three months.

This law was put into effect so that newly licensed drivers could gain some experience and ability without the distractions of a car full of teenagers. My husband and I have strictly followed these laws, and even though we have heard all of the protests from our kids, the bottom line is that it is the law.

The problem is that most of their friends have never followed these laws. One girl had six teenagers in her car driving to school the very next day after getting her license.

I have had my daughters' friends tell me that their parents "think it's stupid" to follow these laws.

When are these parents going to stop trying to be friends to their kids? They are telling their children that it is okay to break the law.

Do the parents of these kids even bother to ask about the driver before letting their kids get in the car?

Should I tell the parents of the kids that I know for a fact have violated this? Should I anonymously tell the police, or should I stay out of it?

Just yesterday I saw one girl with four others with her in the car. The radio was blaring, all of them were on their cell phones, eating, laughing and everything else you can imagine. She had gotten her license three days before this.

Being a good parent is the toughest job in the world, and I have no regrets, but I am beginning to wonder if the rest of our society has any idea what the effects of doing such a lousy job has on the rest of us.

Fed Up in Connecticut

The reason that these graduated licensing programs are in place is because they work. Cutting down on the number of passengers has a demonstrable effect on the number of teen crashes.

The police can't do much with anonymous calls about driving infractions. If the police see a carload of kids, they will stop them, but they have to witness infractions to do anything about it.

Your best bet is to work with the school. School officials can make it clear to these young drivers that if they see this sort of unsafe behavior on or near school grounds, they will phone all of the parents involved. The school could perhaps do more to educate and re-educate these young drivers.

If you see a bunch of kids in an unsafe situation, you should call the parents, not to chew them out about their twisted values, but to let them know that you witnessed some very unsafe behavior. You should assume that these parents are not aware of what their teens are up to.

Keep doing a good job with your kids. They hold the key to their own safety. They should not get into a car with an unsafe number of passengers. If they are in a car with a teen driver who keeps piling on passengers, they should make an excuse, get out of the car and call for a ride.

Dear Amy:

In reply to "Hurt & Confused," the woman whose boyfriend was not invited to her cousin's wedding.

If the relationship were "serious" after three years, she would have some kind of ring on her finger to prove it. She is 29 years old for God's sake. Unless she is dating a much younger man, what are they waiting for?

No wonder her family doesn't take their relationship seriously.

Forty With a Ring for 20 Years

I'm so very happy for you. Unfortunately, however, the very high divorce rate is messing with your whole ring-equals-serious theory. A ring means only as much as the commitment it symbolizes.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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