Should Citizens Have to Be 18 Years of Age to Obtain a Driver’s License?

by tylercook on October 4, 2013

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Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage; every year, thousands and thousands of 15-year-olds count down to their 16th birthday. Yet, with this rite of passage comes an inherent danger; 16-year-olds are at great risk for becoming accident victims.

The Risk Factors

There are several reasons why 16-year-olds are among the most dangerous drivers on the road. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, these reasons include the inability to detect hazards, a skewed perception of risk and risk taking, a failure to wear seatbelts, a lack of vehicle handling skills, driving while alcohol or drug impaired, carrying passengers (which often leads to distraction), and driving at night.

The Age Debate

Over 5,000 teens die each year in car accidents. The rate for vehicular accidents among 16-year-olds (both fatal and nonfatal) is nearly 10 times the rate for drivers 30 to 59. This, coupled with the fact that many of the risk factors are a result of immaturity, brings up the question, “Is 16 too young to drive?” It depends who you ask.

The Argument for Changing the Driving Age

When all the stats are calculated and the logic is weighed, it seems like increasing the legal driving age to 16 is a given; after all, it would save the lives of teens and other drivers.

Increasing the driving age gives teenagers something that is the cornerstone of all good drivers: more experience. Driving isn’t a skill that can simply be learned by reading a driver’s education booklet; it is learned and perfected only with time.

The Argument Against Changing the Driving Age

On the flipside, changing the driving age to 18 is not without is complications. Teenagers who have long waited for their sixteenth birthday are not the only ones who disagree with altering the mandate: many parents disagree as well.

Parents argue that they would have to chauffeur kids to school, sporting events, and other activities. They also argue that this kind of change would teach kids to be dependent, rather than teach them to be responsible.

Others believe that increasing the driving age will increase the odds of driving while impaired (18-year-olds attending college are often in circumstances where alcohol flows freely). Data appears to back this up.

Data has shown that drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 as well as 45 and 64 were nearly twice as likely to be killed in alcohol-related incidents than those between the ages of 16-20. This likely stems from the older demographics leaving bars and clubs while inebriated.

The Best Solution

Often, the best solution doesn’t involve one extreme or the other, but rather, comes from compromise. Illinois has been working to reduce the number of teen driving fatalities by doubling the number of adult-supervised driving hours required before getting a license and tripling the amount of time a teen must have a driver’s permit. New Jersey has increased the minimum driving age to 17, which has led to a reduction in fatalities.

These graduated driving laws—including longer learning periods, more supervised driving hours, restrictions on late-night driving, seatbelt requirements, and restrictions on teen passengers—have decreased the vehicular fatality rate for teenagers by 33 percent.


Burt Kessler is a freelance writer specializing in auto repair, road traffic law, motor clubs, car modification, body kits and other kindred topics; car lovers who want to take extra special care of their vehicle should view the services offered by a top Abbotsford car repair shop.




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  • lauralouise90

    I think that if anything making people wait until they’re older to drive will have the opposite effect – if you’re taught during school like in the US and are given more time and experience you’ll be a better driver…. Laura @ Industrial Deafness Claims

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