Raising the Driving Age

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November 23, 2010

For at least the last ten years, the issue of whether or not to raise the driving age to 18 years old has been a touchy subject on every level of the spectrum; from State Highway Safety Association to teenagers and everybody in between. Although everyone has some degree of approval that raising the driving age would be a good idea no one has really put forth the effort to actually have it come to pass. This has lead to the ongoing debate of whether it should even be a consideration anymore. There are several reasons that establishing the driving age at 18 is a legitimate idea. First, by having the driving age moved to the minimum of 18 this can be both environmentally and economically commendable. Also, teenagers under the age of 18 are more mentally underdeveloped when it comes to making sound decisions on the road, which then leads teenagers to having one of the highest fatality rates involving automobiles.

Global warming has become key issue all over the world, especially in more over-crowded counties and cities, due to higher volume of emissions being released into the air. In the year 2000, the Carbon Emissions that are released into the air by cars in the United States is 302 Million Metric tons (MMTc) (Environmental). In that same year, there were 190 million licensed drivers in the United States, and 9,743,000 were drivers under the age of 19 (U.S), that’s five percent of the population. I know it doesn’t seem like that much but when you take in consideration the total emissions being released into the air and multiply it by the number of teenage drivers, that will reduce the amount of emissions by 15.1 MMTc. People are desperate to help stop global warming; one way we can do this is to reduce the amount of drivers on the roads and create a more accessible public transportation in rural areas. Increasing the age for driving would also be beneficial to parents of teen drivers due to the fact that insuring a teen driver is very expensive. A recent study, in 2009-2010 for a one-car family to insure their teen-driver would raise their premium 42 percent, 58 percent for a two-car family and 62 percent for a three-car family (Schultz). An average of $620 dollars a year is what parents pay to add their child to their insurance (Bradford). That is one child, I come from a family of five and eleven years ago, when I turned sixteen my parents already had two teen drivers on their auto insurance and we were living off two teacher salaries. By the year 2000 the average teacher in Texas was making 37,576 (IES); that would leave them with a combined income of just over 75 thousand a year. Paying an average of $620 dollars per teen driver wouldn’t have gone over well with living expenses, so needless to say, I got my divers license but I wasn’t able to drive until I was 18. There are always two sides to an argument, Parents grow weary of driving their kids for one place to the next; interrupting their own busy schedules to drive their teen to their next social event. Bill Van Tassel, AAA’s National manager for driving training programs says “We have parents who are pretty much tired of chauffeuring their kids around, and just want them to be able to drive” (Davis). This is completely understandable, with today’s busy world no one has time for anything but does it really merit putting a population of underdeveloped minds behind the wheel for our own convenience?

Which brings me to my next point; are teens mentally mature enough to be granted with the responsibility of driving a car? In 2005, new findings in brain research at the National Institutes of Health explain why efforts to protect teen drivers usually fail. The scientists at the NIH in Bethesda, Md., have found that a part of the brain that weighs risks, makes judgments and controls impulse behavior which is referred to as “the executive branch” is still developing in teenage years and isn’t fully matured until the age of 25...
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