Raising the Age for Obtaining a Drivers License to Age 18
Teenagers want to have fun. Teenagers want to look cool. Driving is fun. Driving is cool. No wonder teenagers want to be able to drive as soon as they are tall enough to step on the pedals and see beyond the hood of the vehicle at the same time. If you ask a teenager if they would like to learn how to drive, only a few would answer no or would say, “I will wait until I’m eighteen.” Most would delightfully say yes considering all the advantages they would have once they learn how to drive; bragging rights, going out on dates, etc.
This would probably be most true for teenage boys, but let us not discriminate against girls. For this paper, let us pertain to the age group of teenagers below eighteen regardless of their gender.
For most states in the U.S., sixteen is the age when teens are finally allowed to get a driver’s license. To be allowed to drive is one of the first indications that your parents already see you as a grown-up. They have given you access to one the most expensive and important properties of the family, and they trust you enough to be responsible for it. To be allowed to have a license is the state’s way of granting you access to one of the perks of being an adult. Though you will not legally be considered an adult yet and there still are many other things that you would have to wait for until you are eighteen or twenty-one to legally do, driving nevertheless is the first.
Now, why is it necessary to change the legal age for acquiring a driver’s license from sixteen to eighteen? What would change if that were to happen? Would those changes be for the better?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. is car crashes (Pabst, Pheifer). Since these 16-year-olds are still new to driving, and their maturity level at that age makes them tend to be more reckless. At the Governors Highway Safety Association conference in Arizona last September, the Insurance Institute for highway safety urges the sates to raise the age for obtaining driver’s licenses as a safety precaution not just for the teens, but for all motorists as well.
Such a proposal was not well received however. There are many arguments against raising the age requirement for licenses, and most of these arguments did not come from the teens, but rather from the adults themselves.
Some parents said that they allow their teen children to drive so they can help around the house and run errands for their parents.
Others claim that maturity comes not from age, but rather from experience. Therefore, it would be good to allow the teens to drive at such an early age so once they turn 18, they would already have enough driving experience to become matured and skilled drivers.
Another such argument is that when people are allowed to do things for the first time, particularly the fun and exciting things, they want to indulge themselves with doing all those things at once. Eighteen is the legal age. This is when a teen, though still a teenager, becomes legally an adult and are now legally allowed to do adult stuff such as drinking alcohol, going to bars and night clubs, smoking cigarettes, watching R-rated movies, and (if it comes to that), driving. The newly christened adults would want to do all those ay once. They just got their license to drink, drive and go out at night. This would therefore increase the probability that these 18-year-olds would drink and drive at the same time, therefore increasing the probability of an accident occurring as well.
It would be hard to deny the soundness of these claims. It would be good for young teens to start driving at an early age so they could lessen the burden of their parents, so they could develop their maturity and driving skills right away, and so they would not party, drink, and drive all at the same time. However, these do not erase the fact that at that age, they are still prone to getting into accidents, which could jeopardize not only their safety, but those of the other road users as well.
Moreover, say for example two road accidents occurred; one was caused by a 16-year-old and the other was caused by an 18-year-old. The damages for both accidents are exactly the same. However, the punishment or penalties they would receive are different. The minor would probably receive a lighter punishment than the adult would. The burden of paying for the damages would most likely just be passed on to the parents of the minor. Even if the minor caused a greater damage, it would still be the case. That would be unfair for the adult. If a drivers license is to be handed out to a certain person, that person should at least have the capacity acquire a real job or an insurance to pay for whatever damages he could cause or receive. That would only be possible if he is 18 and older.
To have a 16-year-old already driving can really be convenient, even if it is just to help around the house and lessen the burden of their parents who already are too busy from raising those kids alone. Since it seems to be quite a good idea to have teens driving at 16, at least let them drive but with certain restrictions. Disallow them to drive in major roads and highways, unless an adult accompanies them. Then when they turn eighteen, they could get a new license, one that would finally allow them to drive anywhere even without the company of an adult. This would give them the benefit of the first three arguments and also lessen their risk of getting into a road accident.
Dys, Andrew. Officials hope to curb accidents by raising driving age. The Herald. January 21,
Pabst, Lora, and Pheifer, Pat. Caution, teens: Effort to raise driving age ahead. Startribune.com.
Minneapolis- St. Paul Minessota. December 17, 2008.
“Teen Driving Statistics”. November 18, 2008. Rocky Mountain Insurance Information
Association. December 17, 2008