US traffic accidents have entered a deplorable state, with more than thirty-eight thousand people killed in road accidents alone in 2015, with 4.4 million others injured, resulting in hospital consultations (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). According to IIHS, the majority of these incidents are caused by young drivers, leading to a discussion on raising the minimum driving age to 20 years to discourage teenagers from driving. However, proponents of teen driving argue that teen driving is a privilege that is more beneficial than it is destructive, thus should be allowed to all teenagers. Despite the numerous deaths caused by teenage driving, I believe that the best cure would be instituting policies to bring normalcy, rather than making a blanket ban on teenage driving.
According to the opponents of teenage driving, teen drivers are more likely to be distracted compared to the older generation, thus are more likely to cause accidents. According to Devore, teenagers do not have the logical reasoning of adults, and their emotional and social development is immature, thus are more susceptible to distractions, which are the major causes of accidents. According to IIHS road carnage teenage drivers caused 9.5% of all road carnages in 2015; this is compared to the 6.5% accidents caused by drivers aged between twenty and twenty-five. According to these statistics, no age group aged above twenty-five years that caused more than five per cent of all road carnages. Moreover, nearly two-thirds of all passengers, pedestrians and cyclists deaths are caused by fifteen-to-nineteen-year old drivers (American Automobile Association). Using these statistics, opponents of teen driving postulate that by denying the teens the right to drive, road carnages will be reduced significantly.
Despite these chilling statistics, there are those that feel that teenagers should be allowed to drive, and have even led to the reduction of the legal driving age from sixteen to fifteen. Proponents of teen driving argue that allowing teenagers to drive gives the parent a degree of control and supervision over their driving that the parent will not get when their children move out. According to proponents, the numerous accidents caused by teen drivers arises from their inexperience, thus, allowing them to drive in their teen will give them the requisite experience under the supervision of their parent. This will help the teens to build confidence and demonstrate that they are ready for more responsibilities (Triplett 67).
Notably, teens are more active in social activities, school clubs, weekend activities and after-school jobs, all which require transport. Denying the teens the opportunity to drive will force them to rely on their parents or older siblings for transportation to these functions activities. Unfortunately, this will be burdensome for parents and siblings, bearing that they too have their schedules. This will make the teen miss out on some important social events and school activities, harbouring their social growth. As such, allowing the teens to drive will give parents a break and allow the teens to attend important social functions that are critical for their social growth (Triplett 70).
According to proponents of teen driving, driving is a great encouragement tool that can be used to motivate teens to make positive choices that is important to improving behavior. Privileges to drive may be used to motivate teenagers to improve their grades, complete their chores among other positive behaviors. According to Devore, allowing teens to drive shows the level of trust the parent has on the teen; thus the teenager will make responsible choices, and take on more responsibilities (56). As such, making a blanket ban on teenage driving will deny the parents this all-important motivational tool that is held in regard by teenagers, it will also be misconstrued as the lack of trust on teenagers, a factor that may make teenagers irresponsible (Devore 60).
The argument of raising the legal driving age to bar the teenager is largely based on the statistics that the teenagers form the largest single age blanket that contributes to the largest number of accidents in the country. However, it is evident that barring teenagers from driving is far more devastating than it is helpful. Thus, it is important to allow the teens to continue driving, but establish measures aimed at curbing accidents caused by teen drivers. For instance, Devore proposes that teenagers should be given intermediary driving licenses until they attain twenty years (63). These intermediary driving licenses will only allow teenagers to drive low horsepower vehicles since evidence reveal that teenagers are attempted to test the full limits of powerful engines, which in most cases lead to accidents. The low-powered engines driven by teens should also be fitted with speed-limiting gadgets to prevent over speeding, which is among the causes of accidents among teenage drivers. Additionally, teenagers should not be allowed to drive by themselves between midnight and dawn but with the company of an adult driver. The teenage driver should not be allowed to have teenage passengers (except for immediate family members) for the first six months after getting the intermediate driving license. After six months, the teenager can be allowed to have up to four teenage passengers. Most importantly, there should be strict laws to enforce these policies, among them retraction of the license (Aksomitis 67).
In retrospection, teenage driving has been one of the major causes of accidents in the US, leading to a heated debate, with some arguing that there should be a blanket ban on all teenage driving. Proponents of this view argue that the only logical way or reducing road accidents in the US is by banning teenage driving. However, it is evident that denying teenagers the right to drive is more disadvantageous than it is helpful; it is a great encouragement tool that can be used to promote good behaviour. Most importantly, teen driving allows teenagers to drive themselves to different social activities, which promotes social growth. As such, the best way to resolve the issue is by issuing intermediary licences to teenagers, and instituting policies to bring normalcy to the sector. These strategies will help curb teenage-caused road accidents without denying them this important privilege.
Aksomitis, Linda. Teen Driving. Detroit [Mich.: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print.
American Automobile Association (AAA). Using Naturalistic Driving Data to Examine Teen Driver Behaviors Present in Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2007-2015. 2016. Web
Devore, Dorothy M. New Developments in Parent-Child Relations. Hauppauge, N.Y: Nova Science Publishers, 2006. Print.
Gregory, Ted. Should 16-year-olds drive? Chicago Tribune. 2008. Web.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality Facts. 2016
Triplett, William. Teen Driving: Should States Impose Tougher Restrictions?Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 2005. Print.