Pros and Cons of Raising the Driving Age

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Arguments for raising the driving age

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is running a Put the Phone Away or Pay campaign during distracted driving awareness month, which is each April. Though we are all susceptible to distracted driving, the NHTSA says drivers ages 16-24 are distracted by devices at higher rates than others. Here are some data-based arguments to be made in favor of raising the minimum driving age.

1. It could reduce fatal crashes

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the rate of fatal crashes per mile driven is nearly 3 times higher for teens aged 16 to 19 as it is for drivers over the age of 20.1 It is thought that raising the driving age to 18 could help lower the overall rate of fatal crashes.

2. It could make teens more active

It is thought that removing the option to drive will cause more teens to walk, ride bikes, or use other active options to get places. This could cut back on teenage obesity levels by providing more opportunities for exercise.

3. 18-year-olds are more emotionally mature than 16-year-olds

Emotional maturity increases as we age, and it’s thought that 18-year-olds are more likely to make smart decisions without giving in to peer pressure than 16-year-olds.

Arguments against raising the driving age

Here are two common arguments in favor of keeping things the same.

1. It would limit transportation options for teens

Teens these days may not be as physically active as they ought to be, but they're definitely busy. School, extracurricular activities, jobs, and social events usually require some form of transportation.

If the teens can’t drive themselves, the responsibility for transportation often falls to their parents—who may not have the time or ability—or to public transportation, which may not be readily available. And with most American cities being built with drivers in mind, walking or biking long distances may not be practical or safe either.

All in all, fewer transportation options could limit the opportunities kids have for personal growth at a critical age.

2. Teen car crash stats would skew toward the new minimum age

 The argument here is that the higher crash rates for 16- and 17-year-olds may just be because they are new to driving and lack experience. Delaying the start of driving may just delay that learning and shift the crash rates more toward the 18- and 19-year-olds. 

Teaching teens to be safe drivers

Whichever side of the argument you fall on, we encourage you to stay invested in your child’s safety as they learn to drive.

Consider these gadgets to keep them accountable: 

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Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over eight years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She is a certified Safe Sleep Ambassador and has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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