Driving Ages Around the World

Zahraa Munshi, Staff Writer

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Independence and freedom are two very important things that come with age. For many of us it’s once we start driving, which is usually around the age of 16. In many states and countries the driving age varies from 14 to 18. There are many concerns with the driving age being so low. Research shows that teen drivers have an increased rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills and experience. They speed, make mistakes and get distracted easily, especially if their friends are in the car.  Driver education programs have not been proven to produce the most successful drivers. Historically licensing policies in the U.S. have failed to deal adequately with the young driver problem. For most of the 20th century, states allowed quick and easy licensing at a young age. 25 states have their licensing age at 16, and 15 in a few. New Jersey is the only state that has it at 17. Drivers were subject to penalties applied on the basis of fewer violations than would be the case for adults, and the penalties could be more severe. Evaluations of so-called probationary systems found them to have modest positive effects, but for various reasons they are insufficient to deal with the young driver crash problem. The security guard that watches the parking lot, said “I would rather see you come in late than hit someone”. Studies in various states have shown that graduated licensing reduces crashes, generally by 20-30%, and effects are beginning to show up on a national level.

When interviewing a driver from the U.S., she was asked about some of her concerns she had with younger

drivers. She said “they will be distracted drivers and drive recklessly.” She was then

asked if she would change, why or why not? She said “I would not change the age because there are many other states that you can start driving at 15. I feel left behind. A lot of teens, mostly seniors, have jobs and so I would need to get a ride there. Both of my parents are working so I wouldn’t be able to get on unless I could drive there myself.” Another driver from South Africa was asked the same questions but he had different answers. When he was asked what were some concerns had with younger drivers, he said “Here our driving age is 18, so I haven’t been around young drivers. I do however know that young drivers get distracted very easily, and are very impatient.” He was then asked, does he think the age needs to change, why or why not? He said “I would not change it because I feel safer knowing some of my friends are not driving. We are still immature and I would not want us on the roads. Better safe than sorry.” The world issue seems to be young drivers.