Is Sixteen Too Young?

May 18, 2010
By Thomas Laidlaw BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
Thomas Laidlaw BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

IsMany would argue this topic saying kids are too immature or don’t have enough experience yet. People talk about how the current minimum driving age is too young and how it is unsafe for teens to be on the road. But that isn’t always the issue.

From 1996 to 1999, after traffic laws were restricted for teen drivers, fatalities dropped in half from 4,000 to 2,000 in North Carolina. The number of crashes has also dropped from 345 to 220. That was done over 10years ago and since then more traffic laws have been added to restrict teen drivers even more. An example of this is the driver’s education course content and length of study to get a drivers license. The amount of time spent in driver’s education was increased by nine hours of time, including study and driving time, for the average teen driver. Plus, after you’ve completed the course, you still have to complete a full year of practice under adult supervision before you can even drive alone. The idea is that with your mom or dad in the car with you, you will learn and get more feedback to turn you into a better driver.

Even if the driving age were moved to eighteen, it would likely not make first-time drivers any better. The problem is really all about being new to driving and not having experience. Whether drivers start on at sixteen or eighteen, there’s always a stage where the driver is a beginner and that’s when people are more likely to get in accidents.
People also worry about teenagers drinking and driving. In 2003, only ten percent of sixteen year olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol. That number then jumped to 29.2% at age twenty, which is still an illegal age to purchase alcohol. ON the other hand, 42.8% of adult drivers age 21 to 25 reported having driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the past year. So in reality, it seems teens do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs nearly as much as older drivers.

Another helpful act has been the laws pass to protect people from traffic accidents such as Dallas’ “no cell phone use in school zones” law. Car manufacturers are adding safety features all the time too. Many have the “5 star” crash rated cars so it’s even less likely people will get hurt in accidents. Features have been added to cars to help drivers while they are driving, like automatic parallel parking assistance and stopping the car automatically if the driver has fallen asleep. So even if you do get in a wreck, you are most likely better protected than in years past or the wreck doesn’t happen at all in the first place.

Some personal examples of why the driving age should not be raised include the large amount of driving that teens are required to do in today’s world. For example, my eighteen year old brother has always been a more cautious and aware driver than my mom since he first got his license. He made a 100 on his written driving test. His ability to drive himself to his baseball practices, games, and trips out of town has been the best thing he has ever done for my mom. He spends about six to eight hours a week driving just for baseball. Many other students have additional extra-curricular activities that require them to drive, or they play multiple sports. Not to mention personal things like going out for lunch, visiting friends, traveling, etc. While teens need a car, their parents can still intervene to offer it or not. If parents believe their child isn’t suited to drive, they most likely won’t allow them. Parents still have the power to take the keys away.

Yes, accidents will continue to happen, but they will happen to all aged drivers, not just teen drivers, who happen to get all the negative focus when others also have accidents. And just because is involved in a wreck does that mean it is always their fault? I will admit it is a little more of a risk with beginning, young driver, but not as big a risk as it seems to most. I hope you will think differently about teen drivers now.

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