Driving age should not be moved above 16, despite “bad driver” stereotype of teens

Kaitlyn Caudill, Staff Writer

There are a few important milestones throughout adolescence, such as starting high school, getting a job, and receiving a license. Hence, turning 16 is immensely impactful for teens, as it is when a teen can begin to drive.  Driving a vehicle signals freedom and newfound independence. The ongoing debate of a new license age proposes that the license age should be moved to 17 or 18, and a poll from Gallup approximates that 61 percent of adults think 16 “is too young” for a license. Still, the license age should remain at 16 for reasons that are often overlooked by this majority. 

In reality, teenagers are not always adept at driving. In fact, they can be the exact opposite, exhibiting reckless behaviors at times. The argument that teenagers should not be granted a license until after 16 years of age exists and has always existed, yet that perspective does not acknowledge all of the factors present. 

The legal driving age should not be moved to 17 or 18 because there would continue to be an abundance of inept drivers. Driving is not an innate ability, and it would prove to cause difficulty for adults if they were not granted a license until they matured fully. 

CYHS driving instructor Nathan Trimmer believes that driving is a skill that is only improved through practice and hands-on experience. He also recognizes that the majority of teenagers are equipped to handle driving while recognizing  “right from wrong” and “being responsible”.

Likewise, teenagers are able to incorporate a job into their daily routine with more ease if they are able to provide their own transportation, as well driving to school. 

Erin Duffin from Statista claims that it is estimated over 19% of individuals ages 16-19 had a job in 2021. This is a significant percentage of teenagers, and many of them would be unable to drive to their jobs if the license age was moved to 17 or 18. The responsibility would then fall on parents, which may lead them to prevent their children from getting a job. This would hinder teenagers by failing to teach them the value of hard work and organization, which is why the driving age should remain at 16, rather than moving up.  

Adults may argue that teenagers are not mentally mature enough to drive. Their frontal lobes are not fully developed yet, which makes older adults believe that teens lack many of the cognitive abilities associated with driving.

However, teens are able to think critically and make the right decisions on the road. In fact, driving can be a useful tool in fortifying these skills. When placed in the right situations, teenagers can acquire skills that are essential for driving by adapting to the new environment. 

Still, a few improvements could be made to ensure that teen drivers are less likely to execute poor decisions on the road. Teens could be placed in simulated situations, specifically, those involving common distractions, such as ringing phones, to prevent the occurrence of those circumstances in real life. Denmon Pearlman estimates that approximately 80% of accidents exihibit driver distraction as a factor, which can easily be prevented by experience in those situations. Then, the roads may be more safe, and fewer “bad drivers” may linger.