Should the driving age be raised to 18?Sources and arguments for my pint-sized debaters?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This would be a hard one to ever change since teen-age driving has its roots in driving farm vehicles and is seen as a time honored reality. I think I might agree with rrteacher's suggestion of a longer permit-driving time to build up experience (though this might drive a few parents mildly mad). But let's take a look at this analytically.

New Jersey is one of a few states that have a 17-year old licensing requirement. According to a report in Huffington, research has shown New Jersey has a lower teen fatality rate than nearby states. This fact alone trumps parents' inconvenience and prolonged chauffeuring time. So based on this, the only reasonable and responsible choice is to raise the licensing age to at least 17.

Our current socio-cultural scene is (in my judgement) vastly, vastly different than anything ever before. Influences for aggressive behavior are more prevalent, accessible, and ever-present than ever because the media are more present than ever. Listening to loud raucous music while driving can be a great distraction as can hands-free telephone conversations. Based on this, the logical thing to do is to adjust social privileges to match social dynamics and, in this case, that would mean adjusting to prolong the receipt of the privilege of driving. 

I've just talked myself into supporting an increased teen-age driving license age. [Though eNotes doesn't accept reference links that lead to indexes or entry pages, the CDC site has a good half dozen articles about teens and driving that I can't resist adding here as a resource for litteacher's student debaters.]

pacorz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In response to #7, different states have different laws about teenagers practicing driving without a license. In my state, for instance, teens have to reach the age of 15-1/2 and they need to be enrolled in a driver's education class in order to practice legally. So, while they can practice without a license, they still have to first meet criteria that are tied to the age you can get a license at. Many states also require one to get a learner's permit, which is actually a special type of license, in order to practice.

I personally agree with the majority of posters here that raising the driving age is neither necessary nor appropriate. I live in a rural area with no mass transportation, so driving is an essential life skill here. Raising the age would make it harder for high school students to work and/or participate in extracurricular activities, both valuable activities for young people. There is, as far as I can see, no huge increase in maturity level between 16 and 18, especially for boys.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, the most important point against this is that 18 is not some magic age at which teens suddenly become completely responsible.  It is not at all clear that raising the age to 18 would result in fewer accidents.  Even if people who are 18 and over now have fewer accidents, might that be because they are more experienced (as opposed to being more responsible)?  If 18 year olds are new drivers, might they not be  just as bad as 16 year olds today?  Given these types of uncertainties, it does not make sense to inconvenience families as badly as they would be inconvenienced by raising the driving age.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would go in the opposite direction, keeping the driving age at 16 and moving the probationary, or learner's permit period back to maybe 14. And I would also make the exam a little tougher, to the extent that is feasible. There is, as others have said, nothing magic about 16, but it's also true that 16 year olds can enter the workforce in a lot of states, which means many of them need to be able to drive. I have taught too many kids whose families depended on their incomes, which were in turn dependent on their ability to drive, to say that we should move the age up to 18.

Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think so. If anything, the driving age should be lowered. It's not a matter of age, it's a matter of practice. Like pohnpei397 said, 18 is not a magical number. Biologically and physiologically, people are all "grown up" long before 18. If we allow our young people to participate in adult activities (such as driving and drinking alcohol) under supervision and guidance - at a younger age - they will be better equipped to deal with those activities when they get older

sheila132 | Student
Should the driving age be raised to 18?Sources and arguments for my pint-sized debaters?

Personally I know drivers in their 40's that drive worse than new drivers. The age of the driver really does not make a difference. Everyone matures differently.

luiji | Student

I think driving laws should be kept the same in regards to age, but stricter laws on those who commit offences, and longer practice hours.

luiji | Student

Actually, drivers under 20 (those with very little experience) account for 30% of all car accidents in Australia.

kmsrocks678 | Student

None of this really matters since the world is ending in a week.