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This house would raise the legal driving age to 18
This house would raise the legal driving age to 18
The age at which you can legally drive varies from country to country1, but in many places it is lower than 18. In some American states it is 15 or younger. Usually you are allowed to take a driving test a year or more before you can vote or drink alcohol. As young drivers are the ones most likely to have accidents2, from time to time there are calls to raise the driving age. In the past two years lawmakers in the US states of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Massachusetts have debated raising their driving age3, although these attempts are unlikely to change anything in the foreseeable future. The British government has also recently considered lifting the driving age in the UK from 17 to 184, although it seems unlikely to go ahead with this change.
This topic assumes that the age should be raised to 18, but the arguments will still work for any number higher than the present legal driving age in your state. Many European countries already have a driving age of 18, so they might debate raising it to 21. Most of the arguments will also work for a debate on limiting how young people can drive.
|Points For||Points Against|
|Young people are generally more technologically capable, and are more likely to be distracted by mobile media devices than older people.||For many young people the ability to travel is essential for their livelihood.|
|Driving is considered to be an 'adult responsibility' similar in nature to drinking or smoking cigarettes, and should therefore carry the same age restrictions.||Pure statistical analysis and stereotypes of 'reckless boy-racers' should not be blanketly applied to an age group.|
|Every study carried out in this field shows that younger drivers are more likely to be involved in serious accidents - raising the age would make the roads a safer place.||Learning to drive is an important point in the social development of children - a quantifiable point at which they become more like adults. Were this taken further away, young people would be more frustrated and immature.|
|Government has a responsibility to restrict driving to make it safer.|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
Young people are generally more technologically capable, and are more likely to be distracted by mobile media devices than older people.
Despite the fact that using a mobile (cell) phone is illegal in many countries, there are still places including a lot of US states1 in which it is completely legal to use a phone even to send text messages– indeed one in three (34%) texting teens ages 16-17 say they have texted while driving1. This has been identified as a serious problem among teenage drivers2 who are themselves more familiar with the technology and do not see driving as an environment in which it is inappropriate to divert one’s attention. Adding at least a year onto the legal driving age would bring maturity in all areas and an increased awareness of the dangers of driving whilst using mobile media and communication devices.
Once again this is more a question of experience and individual adherence to good driving rather than a question of age. If young people are more likely to be using mobile phones even where it is legal, raising the age restrictions on driving would not solve the problem. Every year children are becoming more technologically adept, so it stands to reason that this would simply delay any potential problems rather than solve them. More resources could be put into the implementation of hands-free devices, as well as technology which would prevent people from using phones in the car at all1.Improve this
Driving is considered to be an 'adult responsibility' similar in nature to drinking or smoking cigarettes, and should therefore carry the same age restrictions.
Few countries think 16 and 17 year olds are grown up enough to vote1, drink alcohol2 or smoke3. Yet most allow them to get behind the wheel of a car4, even though it is a dangerous weapon in immature, careless or reckless hands. Society usually sees 18 as the age at which young people become adults. Shouldn't driving be one of the privileges ad responsibilities of adulthood?Improve this
Allowing young people to drive right at the point at which they are also able to consume legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine is surely a step in the wrong direction. By allowing young people the responsibility to learn to drive without the temptation of performance inhibiting drugs you at least give them a chance to learn the real dangers and challenges of driving so that they will hopefully be able to make safer decisions while driving. Driving is also not comparable to drinking or smoking in that it requires a proficiency test, and those who drive have to adhere to strict laws. Young people are not simply 'let loose' in cars - they are taught how to use them properly and have to prove they are able to do so.Improve this
Every study carried out in this field shows that younger drivers are more likely to be involved in serious accidents - raising the age would make the roads a safer place.
Human life is precious and whilst driving remains one of the most dangerous things people do on a day to day basis1, we must do everything reasonable to prevent deaths. Raising the driving age will cut the number of accidents on the roads. In 2008 alone in the USA there were 6428 fatalities involving young drivers and passengers aged between 15 and 20. Raising the driving age by a year or more will greatly reduce these accidents and deaths.Improve this
Young drivers do have more accidents, but that is because they are not very experienced, not simply because they are under 18. If we raise the driving age, it will be 18-19 year old new drivers having more accidents instead of 16-17 year olds. With this in mind, options like having a more rigorous driving test or imposing stricter rules on young people even after they have passed would do a better job of saving lives. Schemes like Pass Plus1 in the UK or Graduate Driver Licensing in the USA could be more widely implemented, and statistics for countries like Finland where the driving tests are far more advanced show the positive effects this could have3.Improve this
Government has a responsibility to restrict driving to make it safer.
In most countries there are strict rules that govern who is and is not allowed to drive. Practically speaking, the infrastructure is already there to enforce an increase in the age limit – one of the main aims of the Metropolitan Police in the UK is “Seizing uninsured and unlicensed vehicles”1 - the age limit for licensing has no effect on the Police's ability to enforce the law. Governments already restrict driving to make it safer through laws concerning alcohol use, insurance and the age limits already in place. Making the age limit higher would simply add to this campaign to make the roads a safer place.
Governments already do a lot to restrict road use to make it safer. Unfortunately we live at a time in which financial resources for such ventures are very limited and the police forces around the world are often stretched to breaking point. For example, in the UK the police budget is being cut by a massive 20% which will undoubtedly have a significant impact on their ability to enforce the law . Bringing in a scheme to increase the legal driving age would not only be expensive in itself, it would also require an increase in the amount of policing on the roads which the police themselves simply cannot afford. It has even been suggested that we already need more officers to make the roads safer - asking the police to enforce a change like this would just make the situation worse.Improve this
For many young people the ability to travel is essential for their livelihood.
In our modern society driving is essential – mobility has to be regarded as a right you gain in your mid-teens. 16 and 17 year olds often need to drive to get to school or work, and many live in rural areas with few buses or trains1. Most of the activities that teach young people about the world, like sport, school clubs, bands, and part-time jobs, can only be done if teens can drive themselves. All these things are about gaining autonomy – making personal choices and beginning to find your own way in life as you become independent from parents. Mobility is needed to make those choices and it is for these reasons that many parents are just as opposed to raising the driving age as teenagers are.
In a world with soaring petrol costs1 and often ridiculously high insurance premiums for young people2 that argument can no longer be valid. Indeed, the cost of running a car has gone up so much that there are actually fewer young people choosing to drive3. In these conditions it is unlikely that a 16 or 17 year old would be able to fund their own cars anyway, putting increased pressure on parents to pay the difference. Putting the age restrictions up would not only save parents money, but also increase the chances of new drivers being able to pay for driving independently.Improve this
Pure statistical analysis and stereotypes of 'reckless boy-racers' should not be blanketly applied to an age group.
Many teens are safe and careful drivers, and almost all adult drivers today started before they were 18. It would be unfair to punish all 16 and 17 year olds for the bad behaviour of a few. Instead of a blanket measure like raising the driving age, there are other steps that could be taken to make the roads safer. These include making the driving test tougher, requiring driving graduate programs and training1 and requiring a retest and compulsory retraining for any new driver caught driving badly. Parents could even be brought in to the decision making process as to whether or not their children are mature enough to learn to drive. These measures would ensure that the problems young drivers face are dealt with on an individual basis - after all if we relied solely on statistics one could argue that all men should be banned from driving because they are 77% more likely to have accidents than women2 according to a study carried out in the USA.Improve this
What other data can we look at in this debate if not the crash statistics? Although it is not ideal to 'punish' everyone for the mistakes of a few, when it comes down to saving lives this shouldn't matter. Raising the driving age is a practical means of doing this which could be implemented with relative ease, cost far less in the long term than creating extra programmes for young drivers as well as avoid problems of discrimination along gender lines. "Being young" is not the same as "being male" in that the former will inevitably change and the latter will not - there is no question of infringement on rights in this case, it would simply make the roads a safer place.Improve this
Learning to drive is an important point in the social development of children - a quantifiable point at which they become more like adults. Were this taken further away, young people would be more frustrated and immature.
Learning to drive is often considered a 'major milestone'1 in the life of a child. As well as being economically important to many, the social aspects of the car should also be considered. Sharing lifts to school or college is not only a good way of making friends, it also saves fuel and reduces traffic congestion. Being made to wait an extra year or so would seem a token gesture to most teenagers who might be encouraged to drive illegally in the interim period. Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the USA argues that "teens themselves have been growing up under a certain set of rules about when they can get their license"2 - it would be unfair and perhaps unwise to treat an entire generation differently, especially when most of them will have friends of almost the same age who will be able to drive while they must wait an extra year.
1 Reference to importance of driving as a young person in "Teen driving safety booklet for parents" published by New York State Department of Health:
2 Article "Report makes a case for raising driving age", Rita Rubin in USA Today, 9 September 2008:
Again this comes down to the distinction between 'treating people unfairly' and saving lives. Ultimately even if a small improvement is made by changing the age limit so that fewer people die the move is a good one. Most children around that age will indeed have friends or relatives that are able to drive them to school, college or to social events - if anything this will raise the level of responsibility and trust in those who are old enough to drive. There may be a short period in which young people are more frustrated about the changes, but very quickly the 'quantifiable point' will simply have moved to the higher age and will carry exactly the same level of excitement and responsibility. We must remember that although driving is a step towards adulthood, it does not grant immediate experience, and as such advances in technology such as automated speed limiters and stereo volume caps on new cars1 could create a transitional period in which young drivers are aware of the differences between them and older, more experienced road users.Improve this
All websites visited 29/08/11List of variations in legal driving age: Statistics for young drivers: Article "Bid To Raise Driving Age Is Roiling Rural Georgia", David Firestone in The New York Times, 14 March 2001: BBC News article "Driving age 'must increase to 18", 19 July 2007: BBC Newsbeat article "Newly qualified drivers 'should be banned at night", 21 September 2010: BBC News article "Is driving more dangerous than flying through ash?", 21 April 2010: Statistics for USA young driver fatalities 2008: Information on the "Pass Plus" scheme (UK): Information on the "Graduate Driver License" program (USA): Comparison of Swedish and USA traffic safety: Legal voting age by country: Legal drinking age by country: Legal smoking age by country: Information on "Cell phone and texting laws", August 2011: Statistics for teen usage of cell phones while driving: Article "Texting while driving: One of the most dangerous habits of teen drivers" on www.drivingmba.com, 16 November 2010: BBC News article "Newry students invent gadget to stop dialling drivers", 13 January 2011: Statement of the main aims of the Traffic Unit of the Metropolitan Police: Article "Budget cuts hit police with more than 2000 officers forced to retire", Alan Travis in The Guardian, 29 March 2011: BBC News article "Extra traffic police needed
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