In the United States, after attaining the age of 16, one is allowed by law to have a driver’s license meaning that they can drive along the streets. Some people usually think that the age at which a person can get a driving license should be increased to 18 years just like in many countries of the world. Others think that persons who are 16 years and above are grown up hence they should be allowed to acquire a driving license. In the recent past, the number of car accidents involving teenagers has been increasing, raising an alarm to the concerned authorities. Whether caused by drunkenness or lack of experience, the death toll among teen motorists has been rising. The government should increase the age required to get a driving license from 16 to 18 years since many teenagers are prone to dangerous driving or irresponsible driving.
According to the “National Teen Driving Statistics”, one of the major causes of death among teenagers is accidents. From these statistics, it was established that a 16 year old teenager is three times more likely to perish on a car accident than an average driver. In the year 2002, about $40,8 billion was the approximate economic impact of accidents involving drivers between the age of 15 and 18 years (National Teen Driving Statistics, 2008).
When a 16 year old child obtains a driving license, parents are not able to control or guide them. The majority of these children are either in college or high school, where they look for freedom. After getting a driving license, they feel as if they are independent and free from their parents; hence, they become overconfident. At this point, parents may not be able to guide them the way they wish or want. At the age of 16, one does not possess enough skills or experience in life, and when they lack guidance from the parents or adults, they can easily go in wrong directions such as taking alcohol and drug abuse. Any driver should have a lot of experience and at the age of 16, one may not have enough experience to be a competent driver. From personal experience, I have seen many of my colleagues becoming drug addicts as they think that they are mature enough at the age of 16.
The other reason as to why children at the age of 16 should not be given driving licenses is that generally they tend to behave less mature or in a childish way. An inexperienced teenage driver is likely to be distracted while driving as compared to adult drivers. In case of a danger on the road, young drivers are less likely to react speedy compared to adult drivers who have experience. It is normal for young people to be adventurous and curious. They like experiencing new things while driving some of which may be disastrous. They like taking risks while driving and they are not aware of the cost of such risks. Drivers below the age of 18 are more likely to be distracted while driving by things such as watching videos, messaging, or even reading a book. It has been established that drivers under the age of 16 are likely to use their cell phones while driving, and this is one of the causes of road accidents (National Teen Driving Statistics, 2008).
A 16 year old driver is mentally immature; hence, he or she is not capable of handling a car. From a psychological point of view, the brain of a 16 year old remains underdeveloped, especially in crucial areas that regulate contemplation and impulse control of a present action’s future outcomes. For any driver, these qualities are necessary as they help in controlling a speeding vehicle. For teenagers, these areas control their highs and lows in form of radical emotions. They are likely to cause a drama as they are mentally underdeveloped. This affects their abilities to handle cars as their emotions make them more prone to accidents compared to adult drivers. A driver should be able to control his or her emotions at any time since there are many road users who may portray different characters on the road. Young and inexperienced drivers are likely to get emotional while driving since they tend to think that they are under-rated by adult drivers. From my interaction with teenagers, I noticed that they are so emotional and may make deliberate decision, which far reaching consequences. I remember one time when we were in high school, there used to be frequent fights among students. The school administration used to deal with many cases of fighting and the main cause of these fights was lack of emotional control among teenagers. When these teenagers become road users, they are likely to quarrel other adult drivers since they are not fully developed mentally. At the age of 18 years, humans are more capable of controlling their emotions and impulses.
Another contributor to teen’s deaths on the roads is the increased use of technology while driving. Many teenagers admit using cell phone while driving. Some teenagers even put loud music in the car while driving and this is likely to distract them while driving. Some cars are even fitted while video screens, where one can watch a movie while driving. As mentioned earlier, drivers at the age of 16 are likely to get distracted by funny things like movies while driving. Drivers are required to have maximum concentration on the road while driving and ensure that they are focused on the road. For teenage drivers, this is not the case as their attention is easily attracted by some funny things. From my own observation, most cars, which are driven by teenagers always, have loud music playing, radio or a screen. Many of them feel that the advanced technology is beneficial, but on the other hand, it may not benefit them. Teenage drivers influence each other, especially when technology is concerned. If one sees their friends’ car with a loud music system, they copy that to their cars. For most adult drivers, they are not concerned more about technology inside their cars hence they do not get distracted by things such as loud music or video screens.
Most teenage drivers tend to ignore some basic rules while driving such as wearing a seat-belt and using the car lights appropriately. For adult drivers, rarely do they ignore basic rules while driving. You may find a 16 year old driver ignoring traffic lights yet they know it is against the law and may bring negative consequences. For the past few years, I have always overheard my parents complaining about teen drivers and how they ignore rules on the road such as road signs and traffic lights. The young drivers are always rebellious in nature even on set rules and regulation. Ignorance of the road signs is one of the causes of accidents among the teenagers. My parents have been complaining frequently on how they almost crushed another car, later they found out that the driver was a teenager. Ignoring a basic rule such as fastening a seat-belt may cost one’s life, a situation that may have been avoided. The law enforcing agencies should ensure that all drivers follow the set rules while driving.
There are some arguments put across by those who think that the age of obtaining a driver’s license should remain 16 years. One of the arguments is that at 16, one is old enough to carry out their own activities including driving a car as they are no longer children. Also, they argue that it is the individual’s experience that matters most and not the age. Each driver has his/her individual learning time and increasing the age at which one should drive does not change the learning process and time. There are adult drivers who make more fatal mistakes than teen drivers. It has also been established that drunkenness is one of the major causes of accidents among the teens, and this is not related to age.
In conclusion, it should be noted that driving is just a privilege and not a constitutionally protected right hence it should be treated as so. It is a serious activity hence putting it in the hands of teenagers who are not fully developed might be risky. Some of the reasons as to why people under the age of 18 should not be allowed to drive include the history of accidents involving teenagers, immaturity of teenagers, parents or guardians losing control over the teens among others. Most of the accidents caused by teen drivers can be avoided if they are prohibited from driving. The law enforcing authority in the country should put stricter controls on irresponsible teen drivers. If the United States is committed to reducing the number of road accidents caused by teen drivers, increasing the required age to obtaining a driving license is the only way out. Teenagers are the future citizens of the country, and when many of them die, it means that the future generation is dying.