Pro: Increase the driving age to 18
Every year, 260,000 people between the age of 16 and 18 die in an auto accident in the United States. Over 50 percent of those people were driving with a first time driver, according to National Public Radio (NPR). These horrifying statistics show the result of driving at such a young age.
There have been too many stories about first-time drivers at the age of 16 dying in auto accidents. Whether it has to do with texting, talking or even turning the radio volume higher, 16-year-olds need to have more experience behind the wheel.
Teens want their license as soon as possible. But think of a friend or relative getting into a car accident because of a driver that was not 100 percent ready or prepared for the open road. Young drivers should get the extra years of experience just to be sure they know what they are doing. I personally would be nervous if I was driving a car full of people as soon as I got my license.
Experience is key to driving. People always say they know what they are doing just because they passed a license test. However, most teens would not know how to react to surprises on the road.
To put driving statistics into perspective, people are allowed to buy a gun at the age of 18, which, according to NPR, only kills 10,000 people each year. Auto accidents cause over 20 times the amount of deaths as a gun. Extending the driving period could potentially lower this number of deaths in auto accidents.
Former Florida State Sen. Burt Saunders agrees with the idea of changing the driving age. “(16-year-olds) are nine times more likely to have an accident than 17-year-olds,” said Saunders. Saunders told Naples News in 2006 that he wants teens that have after school activities to get to where they need to be safely.
Driving takes a lot of responsibility. Drivers have their lives and other people’s lives in their hands. Kids should keep this in mind before rushing to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get their license.
Con: Too late for change
I cringe at the thought of having to wait another year to be able to drive. I’ve been ready and patiently waiting since I was 13. Another two years may not seem like a lot, especially to someone who makes all the laws but hasn’t been in a high school in 40 years, but it is. Still, calls to raise the minimum driving age to 18 have been going on for years now.
Experience, or lack there of, seems to be a common concern with teenage drivers. The fact that new drivers may not be able to identify or handle potentially dangerous situations is just something that’s inherent to a new driver, no matter how old they are. The problem is that experience is commonly confused with maturity, which is understandable because they often go hand in hand. It’s hard to conduct studies on this sort of thing, so there aren’t a whole lot of statistics out there that would indicate either is more or less influential in regard to driving ability.
The greatest problem with a higher driving age is it’s implications not only on students, but parents as well. It immediately eliminates most sophomore and junior drivers, along with a number of seniors. All those students would now have to find another way of getting to school, whether it be a bus (which some neighborhoods don’t have), carpooling, biking or walking. In addition, the availability of parents in the morning is limited for many. That’s just getting to school. Even if an adult could take them, if the adult works, there’s no guarantee he or she would be able to pick the student up. Oh, and all those extracurricular activities, like practice for sports or band, club meetings and things like ELP would certainly complicate things. Not to mention trying to maintain a job, which would be completely out of the question if you couldn’t get to and from it without depending on someone else for a ride.
Nor is Tampa as a city very cooperative due to its spread out nature. It’s utterly miserable to live in this city and not be able to drive, especially in Lutz, where biking or walking are rarely ever viable options. And of course, Tampa’s mass transit system is pretty much a joke. Not as if we had access to it from up here anyway.
The calls by lawmakers, lobbyists, those who conduct studies, and concerned parents alike to lower the driving age are reasonable and perfectly understandable. However, it’s simply far too late for this kind of change.
Gaby Morillo and Ethan Huber