Why the Driving Age Should Not Be Raised

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Is 16 too young to drive?

If you’re 16. you probably think not. But it’s those over 16 — adults like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Adrian Lund — who will get to be the deciders on this one. Lund and some others want to push the age at which a person can get their first driver’s license to 17 or even 18.

Of course, it’s all about “safety.”

Lund — a professional nag who heads an organization of nags — says that teenage drivers are a menace to themselves and others and wants to use the billy stick of the federal government (via withheld highway funds) to compel states to raise their legal driving age — just as the billy stick of federal money was used to impose the 55 mph speed limit, virtual Prohibition of alcohol and “primary enforcement” seat belt laws.

This time, it’s not merely “for the children” — it actually involves them.

And Lund is partially right. Teenagers do get into more than their fair share of wrecks. But is this due to their age — or their lack of training/experience?

There are some very young pro drivers — from NHRA to NASCAR. Maybe not sixteen-year-olds, but not far removed. At 15 or 16, some of these kids are better drivers than most of us will ever be. What to make of this fact?

Granted, these are exceptional kids — but the point’s not invalid: Experience and training probably mean a whole lot more than age — as such.

Will raising the age to 17 or 18 give a kid more experience — or less? Maybe the age at which we begin to train kids to drive should be lowered, not raised. Does it make more — or less — sense to toss a kid with zero hours behind the wheel a set of car keys at 17 or 18, when he is inches way from being legally free of any parental oversight whatsoever?

Maybe it would make more sense to begin teaching kids how to drive around 14 or 15 — easing them into it gradually, and with supervision — so that by the time they are 17 or 18 they have three or four years of experience behind them. That’s...
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