Driving age should be raised to be 21 instead of 18 in the USA for many reasons.
America, perhaps the most “driving” nation in the world, continues to lose thousands of lives due to traffic accidents. The sight of destroyed vehicles and ruined human bodies is familiar to nearly everybody who spends an hour or more a day on the road. This will continue until we invent a comprehensive solution involving a series of measures to correct this unfortunate situation. One of the answers should be establishing a higher driving age, raising the bar from 18 to 21 years of age.
One thing is certain when it comes to driving: adults behave much more responsibly than teenagers. With age comes the realization that driving is a dangerous activity, partly because of increased experience and partly because of the ability to evaluate life from different viewpoints. Another thing that comes with age is the understanding that other people’s life, too, is to be considered and that it has value, being unique and irreplaceable. Adolescents, on the contrary, tend to be too preoccupied in their own problem, their own little world, solving the perennial issues of building communication skills, bodily self-image, romantic relationships, and sex experience.
For them, life is often an entanglement of different problems which they try to solve in drastic and sometimes unusual ways. A teenage guy can rush the car to impress the girl, seeing it as his most important way to demonstrate his masculinity and courage; a twenty-something is already somewhat less likely to behave that way, having learned to impress in other ways and realizing that the consequences can be too dangerous.
Another important reason why driving age should be raised does not relate to safety but rather to making the experience of driving easier. This is particularly important to commuters who are often forced to spend two hours on a trip home from work where it takes them some 40 minutes on a week-end. Congestion is the scourge of American roads, with almost all interstate highways turning into one endless traffic jam at a rush hour. Removing teenagers surely will not totally solve the problem; however, it may help to reduce traffic and the burden on the roads, making life easier for the working population, helping them to make choices concerning location of their work.
Some may argue against the proposal on the same grounds, saying that teenagers will now have a hard time getting to work if they do work or in general getting around. This is important, but does this outweigh the prospect of saving lives lost in traffic incidents? Probably not.
Convenience should not be the most important point in decision-making when it comes to such serious matters anyway. Many of adolescents will simply jump into their parents’ cars, and having two people drive a car has been seen as an aim by many who want to reduce congestion. After all, there are cabs to be taken, as well as older friends with cars and driving licenses.
Opponents also say that imposing a higher driving age is an infringement on civil liberties. This argument is hard to support since, unlike freedom of speech or meetings, there has never been and will never to be any freedom to drive in this country, which is fortunate for both drivers and pedestrians. Anyone willing to drive should prove one’s ability to do so in the driving test, then continue to prove the soundness of one’s abilities avoiding accidents on the road. This right will not be granted to the disabled and mentally upset.
Many will find the comparison of teenagers to the mentally disabled ludicrous and insulting, but the truth is that brain indeed is not developed on a par with an adult when it comes to coordination of movements, at least. Thus, a research team at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., has discovered that the so-called dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, “the executive branch” of the brain responsible for evaluation of risks, making judgements, and control of impulsive behaviour only reaches full maturity at 25.
While it seems really impractical to wait that long, forcing young people to start careers without ability to commute on their own, raising the bar till 21 can greatly improve safety. This can hardly be viewed as an infringement on civil liberty. In the same way, some may claim that restrictions on driving planes are also an infringement, but it is scary to imagine a land where everybody is allowed to fly.
Similar objections have been used to argue against the passage of laws that raising the legal drinking age to 21. However, since Congress passed these laws in the 1980s, an estimated 20,000 lives have been rescued in 20 years. Adolescents stopped going over state borders in order to buy the desired liquor. In much the same way, laws raising driving age should be raised to avert thousands of premature deaths.
Teenagers simply do not have the emotional maturity to handle driving. Even if many of them do, there is hardly an exact way to tell who exactly is ready to take control of the vehicle and who is not. In the meantime, people continue to die in road accidents, and not just teens. That is why the society should ask which is more important: lives or convenience for a few.
Statistics show that teenage accidents are for real. An average day in the US witnesses about 10 teen deaths on the road. The deadliest accident involving teenagers involved 26 adolescents that all died in the crash in 2003. The risk increases when kids are in vehicle with several other teenagers or when they are travelling in the dark.
Thus, action has to be taken to put youngsters off the road. A person who has reached 21 years of age will handle the serious responsibility of driving in a more effective and cool-headed manner, making use of a more developed brain. Older people are less obsessed with desire to impress or emotional problems. Therefore a rise in the driving age will help make the roads safer and ease traffic congestion.