Caution! Teen Driver on the Loose!

Student+driver%E2%80%9D+stickers+are+really+helpful+for+those+who+are+still+learning+to+drive+and+it+usually+makes+the+drivers+around+you+more+understanding.

Jeanelle Wu

“Student driver” stickers are really helpful for those who are still learning to drive and it usually makes the drivers around you more understanding.

Jeanelle Wu, Editor

The day they receive their driver’s license is a dream come true for most teens, yet it is a nightmare for parents and adults. Getting your driver’s license is about so much more than just being able to drive; it is a symbol of growing up, a gaining of responsibility, and a taste of freedom for teens. Sounds great right? Well, I’m sorry to inform you fellow teens that your parents are not just helicopter parents; they might just have a valid point for not wanting you to have the privilege of a driver’s license just yet. Don’t get me wrong, I have my driver’s license and I am loving the freedom, but the facts are loud and clear. When it comes to driving, age is not just a number.

 

The minimum age to get a driver’s license varies in each state and country, but overall, it is most commonly set at 18. Here, in California, the minimum age is 16 years old. Now, this should be concerning. Are teens in California two years ahead of their age in maturity and responsibility level compared to teens around the world? Or, do Californians just like to live on the edge of their seats (and brake pedal)? What some younger drivers might fail to understand is that when they do not drive safely, they are not just putting themselves in danger but also the drivers and passengers around them. 

 

If you think 16 is too young (or if teen drivers scare you),  you probably shouldn’t move to South Dakota, Montana, or Idaho (I’d be scared). In South Dakota, you only need to be 14 to get your permit, and you can get your license at just 14 ½ years old! In Montana and Idaho, you can get your license at 15 (worlpopulationreview.com). I don’t know about you, but when I was 14, I was not mature enough to drive or handle that kind of pressure (I probably couldn’t even reach the pedals). All the parents reading this would likely agree that they would not let their 14-year-old child drive, let alone give them the freedom to drive by themselves without parental supervision.

 

Studies have shown that drivers ages 16 and 17 are more likely to get into a car crash than 18-year-olds. Whether it be lack of experience, lack of maturity, or both, “teen drivers are nearly three times as likely as drivers aged 20 or older to be in a fatal crash” (cdc.gov). Additionally, many accidents are caused by “distracted driving and speeding, with young drivers being the most affected by both according to experts” (policygenius.com). I don’t mean to worry you, but this will hopefully make you a little more cautious when driving.

 

Turning 18 is when someone transitions from a teenager into an adult. Although only two years older than 16, a lot can change in that period of time. Your brain does not stop growing until 25 and you can see a significant change in maturity level from 16 to 18 as well. That’s why you are not allowed to vote until you turn 18; voting is a big responsibility that should be taken seriously. But then what does this mean for driving? Do we really trust people more to drive a car (that can be a dangerous weapon) than to vote in elections, both of which are extremely important? 

I trust myself very much with big responsibility like driving because I am trustworthy enough to drive a car and ensure that everyone I encounter is safe.”

— Hanbin Wang

 

Safety is not the only reason some teens should consider waiting to get their driver’s license. In fact, Hanbin Wang (11) shares that “I am not in a rush to get my license because I don’t think I need it just yet.” Although he is already 16, Hanbin does not see the need to get his license until he is closer to approaching college. He expresses that, for him personally, it is not a matter of responsibility, and “I trust myself very much with big responsibility like driving because I am trustworthy enough to drive a car and ensure that everyone I encounter is safe.” 

 

16 is old enough [to get your license] because in high school you start to get busier and you are almost near “adulthood”; getting your license will teach you how to be more responsible and independent.”

— Natasha El Maissi

 

However, these facts and data do not hold true for all teens, and whether or not someone is ready for that kind of responsibility depends on each individual. Natasha El Maissi (11) was eager to get her driver’s license, stating that “I got my license exactly on the day of my birthday. I was excited to get my license because I knew it would be easier to go wherever I wanted. My life after getting my license is way more fun because I get to have more availability to go to my favorite places.” As Natasha said so well, being able to drive yourself definitely has its benefits. Countering the claim of waiting till you are 18 to get your license, Natasha believes that “16 is old enough because in high school you start to get busier and you are almost near “adulthood”, getting your license will teach you how to be more responsible and independent.” 

 

It is definitely interesting how the minimum driving age varies from state to state and country to country. Each definitely has its benefits, but I guess it all comes down to trusting each driver to practice safe driving and keep those around them in mind.