Is 16 Too Young to Drive?
August 28, 2006
On an average day in the USA, 10 teenagers are killed in teen-driven vehicles. This has caused many officials to question what age teens should be allowed to drive. OK- are you ready from some scary statistics? USA Today studied deadly crashes that took place during the year 2003. Of those accidents that involved drivers between the ages of 16-19, more people died throughout that year then for any disease or teen related injury. Are you ready for the numbers, how about 3,500 teenagers? That’s right, 3,500 teenagers died during the year 2003 from driver related accidents in teen driven vehicles. The statistics are frightening, and have caused many people to ask if teens really are ready to drive. Well, now it seems that science may be answering that question.
New scientific research has shown that the part of the brain that helps control impulsive behavior and helps rationalize the cause and effect of such behavior doesn’t fully develop until roughly the age of 25. You know how everyone says that teens believe they are immortal? Well, according to these studies, it’s true. But the reality is that we aren’t. And it is sad to say, but 3,500 teens in 2003 proved that they weren’t. So what are we to do?
Another point that the statistics show is that 16 year olds are involved in more fatal accidents and are worse drivers than all other teen drivers. In fact, states like New Jersey that restrict 16 year olds from driving have the lowest teen death rates in the entire country. There are a number of different reasons that make 16 year olds unsafe drivers and increase their chances of being involved in a fatal car crash. Some of these include:
- Sixteen year olds are inexperienced drivers. Many parts of the country, such as the South have unsafe streets, even for the most experienced drivers. Teens don’t have the skills to drive on these rural roads.
- Teens often drive vehicles that are prone to roll. SUVs, pickup trucks, and small cars top the list.
- Teens often drive after dark and with other teens in the car. This can cause serious distractions and make it difficult to use all of the senses needed to be a safe driver.
- Alcohol and speeding plays a vital role in many fatalities.
No matter how old you are you should take these things into consideration and drive safely and carefully. If you don’t feel comfortable, then don’t drive. Never drink and drive, don’t drive after dark, and stay away from unsafe roads. Also, limit the number of passengers that you allow in the car with you. Your life is more important than your popularity. Sure, if you are killed in a teen driven car crash your name will be in the paper, your friends, family members, even strangers will come to your funeral and remember you, and your school may hold a day of remembrance in your honor, but is that really the kind of popularity that you want? Play it safe and smart and use good judgment when driving.