Driving crashes compose the majority of deaths among teenagers each year. For years, people have associated becoming sixteen with becoming a licensed driver. We live in a country where sixteen marks an important milestone in a teen’s life; however, recently, people are increasingly questioning whether or not teens should be handed the keys at such an early age. While those in favor of raising the driving age in Georgia to eighteen feel it is a necessary change to reduce the deaths caused by driving, those opposed feel the change will be impractical.
Supporters of raising the driving age feel that teenagers are too immature to handle a motorized vehicle at sixteen. Driving requires a great deal of thinking and concentration skills. Since the teenage brain is not fully developed, teens may lack these vital abilities. Jay Chiedd, who is in charge of brain imaging at the National Institute of Mental Health, states, “It all comes down to impulse control…and that part of brain involved in decision-making and controlling impulses is among the latest to come on board” (Davis). Many people are also alarmed by the fact that the majority of crashes are caused by careless speeding, as evidenced by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which reported that “speeding played a role in 33 percent of fatal teen driver crashes” (“Speed a Factor”). Raising the driving age would allow for further brain development and maturity. On the other hand, opponents see driving as a way for teens to become more responsible. They learn to care for a vehicle, encounter dangerous situations, and rely upon themselves. Depending upon parents to chauffeur them everywhere throughout all their teenage years would stifle the growth of independence.
“By far, teens have the highest crash rates of any age group…and 16-year-olds have the highest crash rate of all,” says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s vice president (Boulard). Raising the driving age would prevent many of the yearly crashes that occur. The lives of many teens could be saved by not allowing this age cohort on the roads. Others question the idea that age equates driving knowledge. The American Automobile Association reported that over half of the crashes caused by teenagers result from mistakes, such as speeding, distraction, and not yielding, that decrease as driving experience increases (“Teen Driving”). Critics of moving the driving age believe that more crashes would occur at the higher age division instead. Allstate Insurance Foundation supported this claim when stating that “crashes involving teens drop dramatically during the first year of driving as they gain experience” (“Why Graduated Licesning?”). Scott Masten, a reasearcher from the Department of Motor Vehicles in a state with stricter laws, reported, “There have been 1,348 fewer deadly crashes involving 16-year-olds, but…1,086 more fatal crashes that involved 18-year-olds (O-Connor). Deaths may be postponed, not prevented.