An ongoing topic of debate in the safety world has been whether the driving age should be raised. Typically, drivers need to be 16 or 17 to drive alone. There are many people, including politicians and safety experts, that want to raise the age to 18.
Potential teen drivers aren’t exactly thrilled with the idea, of course, but there are convincing arguments on both sides of the issue.
Arguments for Raising the Driving Age
There are some strong, data-based arguments to be made in favor of raising the minimum driving age.
It’s Safer The rate of fatal crashes per mile driven is around half as high for teens aged 18 or 19 as for 16- and 17-year-olds.1 It is thought that raising the driving age to 18 could help lower the overall rate of fatal crashes.
It Will 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.
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
Though the camp for raising the minimum driving age makes strong points, there are additional arguments in favor of keeping things the same.
It Limits Transportation Options for Teens Teens these days are involved in more activities than ever. 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 public transportation, which may not be readily available. This can limit the options these kids have for personal growth at a critical age.
It Will Delay the Gaining of Valuable Experience The best way to learn how to do something is to do it. 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.
Whichever side of the argument you fall on, we encourage you to stay invested in your child’s safety as they learn to drive. To help keep them accountable, consider installing a dash cam so you can see how they drive—and have conversations about how to improve their safety behind the wheel.