Raising the driving age to 18
Imagine yourself as a sixteen year-old. You just got your driver's license, and are going to go cruising with your friends to celebrate. However, at about ten o'clock, your attention isn't on the road, and you crash into another vehicle. Two of your friends die on scene, and your other friend is seriously injured. For thousands of teens each year, this is a reality. Sixteen year-old drivers are three times more likely to crash than seventeen year olds, five times more likely to crash than eighteen year olds, and two times more likely than eighty five year olds! I think the driving age should be raised to eighteen in order to protect people for many reasons.
Changing the driving age to eighteen is a good idea because fewer deaths and accidents would result. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,827 drivers in the 15-20 age bracket died in 2002. One hundred eighty fewer died in the same age bracket in 2003. Several countries have done studies on raising the driving age and found that the younger people start driving, the more likely they'll crash. It also proved that because younger people's brains haven't developed completely, and that reduces their capabilities to be a responsible, safe driver. This is one reason to raise the driving age to eighteen.
Raising the driving age to eighteen would make it so that there would be more time to teach teens how to drive. Many countries have employed the usage of the Graduated Drivers' Licensing System (GDL). The GDL has given very promising results, with a drastic reduction of car accidents. The GDL system works because it first requires that teenagers take both a class based, and road based course with qualified instructors. Then, once teens have passed that portion and get their license, they have many limits and restrictions set. Some include the times you are allowed to drive, maintaining a BAC (blood alcohol content) of under .01%, and the number of passengers under eighteen you may have in the car with you. Slowly, these bans are lifted over time, resulting in well experienced drivers. This technique has been applied in Germany, and many other countries with great success and fewer accidents on the roads.
One final reason to raise the driving age is because sixteen and seventeen year olds have little experience driving. It's been proven over and over that the longer you learn and practice something, the better you'll be. Lack of experience is the number one reason why teens are in accidents each year. The reason? Sixteen and seventeen year-olds haven't dealt with weather complications, construction zones, and animals on the road, so they don't know how to react. Seat belt usage is also lowest with teens, despite the fact that they protect the wearer, and they are required by law in Ohio and many other states. Sixteen and seventeen year old drivers also haven't had experience with road rage, which older, more experienced drivers would have learned to deal with. This is a second reason to raise the driving age to eighteen in Ohio.
There are many who oppose raising the driving age to eighteen however. One argument on this is that it wouldn't be fair to teenagers who could have been able to drive now have to rely on parents or other family members to get them from A to B. Now, while this does prove to be an inconvenience, these teens who would be driving and possibly getting into car crashes are being driven by drivers who are older, more experience, and drastically less likely to be in a fatal car crash. Another reason they argue with this is because car dealerships would loose money. This isn't necessarily true due to the fact that few rarely do teens get a car from a dealership when they turn sixteen. Most often, a car is obtained through newspaper ads, Internet ads, or signs posted in car windows from private citizens due to the fact that they are much cheaper. One final reason is that it is punishing all teens for the mess ups of a minority. Raising the driving age isn't to punish teens, it's to protect them from being killed or injured in an accident that could occur if they were driving.
More teens die on the roads then the number of deaths reported on 9/11, or American soldiers who died before or after the war in Iraq. Clearly, sixteen and seventeen year olds are not ready for such an experience, as they are neither knowledgeable, experienced, or mature enough to be safe while driving. Raising the driving age, and employing a stricter, more prolonged GDL program, is the best way to protect teens and other drivers who are involved in these accidents.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety probably is right in saying the roads would be safer if the age for getting a driver's license were raised to 17 or 18. But, for a variety of reasons, we doubt that will happen anytime soon, if ever.
The roads almost certainly would be safer without 15- and 16-year-olds behind the wheel. Just do the math; this age group is among the most accident-prone of any, and making them wait until they are 18 would ensure that fewer teen drivers are on the road at any given time.
The institute, a research group funded by the auto insurance industry, points to New Jersey, the only state with a 17-year-old driving age, as a model. Crash-related deaths are lower there than in some nearby states. The institute reasons that holding off a year or two in allowing teens to drive would significantly reduce car crashes.
But the same argument could be made for just about any teen privilege. If we could keep them all locked up until they turn 18, everyone would be safer.
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But the newly released teens would have little practical experience in the world. They still would all be potentially dangerous drivers until they got some practice.
Granted, the 16-year-old standard is arbitrary. Nonetheless, all but a few states use that standard.
Many, however, including South Carolina, have adopted graduated driving privileges, which is a sensible way to reduce the risk. In South Carolina, for example, teens can get a beginner's permit with a written test at age 15. They are required to have an adult over age 21 with them at all times when they drive.
After 180 days, they can get a restricted or conditional license that allows them to drive alone during daylight hours. After dark, an adult must accompany them.
They cannot get an unrestricted driver's license until they have held a restricted or conditional license for a year.
This process is a big improvement over the days when teens could take their driver's test on their 16th birthdays with no pre-conditions. The new policy at least requires that they have an adult present while they are developing their driving skills.
By the time they are 16, we think, teens need to be taking on some responsibilities themselves, including personal transportation. If they have to wait until they are 17 or 18, they remain dependent on parents practically until they ready to go off to college, join the military or take a civilian job.
Also, ask parents and many will admit that giving their 16-year-olds the keys is a big convenience. After years of carting kids to school and back and taking them wherever they need to go, it's a relief to let them drive themselves.
We have created a nation where driving is essential. Public transportation is not an option except in large metropolitan areas.
Kids need to assume responsibilities at some point. Letting them drive at 16 con- tinues to make sense despite the obvious hazards.