Editorial: Raising Legal Driving Age

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When I first came to America from Denmark there were a lot of things that were very different. I would not go as far as to call it a culture shock but still, some aspects about the American culture confused me. The most obvious one, and the one that I have decided to write about in this editorial, are the various legal ages that you have here in America. There is one age for drinking, one for driving, one for joining the military, etc. Now, in this editorial I am going to be focusing on the fact that you can be as young as 16 to get a drivers license in this country. Why is it that the US government allows young kids, because that is what you are at the age of 16, the enormous responsibility of managing a vehicle and being personally liable for not only their own lives but other people as well? This is the same government that finds it necessary to tell these kids that they can not consume alcoholic beverages until they are 21. What requires the most responsibility and sound judgement? Driving a car or having a drink?

Brain and auto safety experts all over the country fear that 16-year-olds are too immature to handle today's cars and roadway risks and according to USA Today, scientists at the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Md., have found that the so called "executive branch" of the teen brain, the part that weighs risks, makes judgements and controls impulsive behavior, is not fully mature until the age of 25. On the other hand, one 16-years-old's brain can be more developed than a 18 years-old's, but evidence is mounting that a 16-year-old's brain is generally far less developed than those of teens just a little older. According to USA Today, teen drivers have higher rates of fatal crash involvement than any other age group, and sixteen year olds have the highest rate of all. 3,500 teenagers died in teen driven vehicles in 2003, a death toll that tops that of any disease or injury for teens.

U.S.-based highway safety experts often point out how much...
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