Age And Driving Argumentative Essay Example
Driving is a privilege that many associate with freedom. Being able to take the steering wheel to head off to any place of one’s desire can bring about a sense of freedom and independence. This sense of freedom is reinforced by the plastic card bearing one’s picture with the state name at the top and Driver’s License ID No. on it. However, driving is not just a simple matter of distinguishing the accelerator from the brakes, or knowing when to shift gears from park to drive or reverse. Driving is a complex task that requires the exercise of keen senses, sharp reflexes and quick ability to make sound decisions at the right time – the skillful synchronization between mind and body. According to the 1990-2009 statistics of the US Census Bureau, an average of 10 million vehicular accidents occurs in the US every year resulting in 35.9 million deaths within the year of accident and 33.8 deaths within the month of accident (693). These accidents and deaths can be minimized if states grant driver’s license only to persons who are competent to drive. Competent driving implies not only the ability to use well-developed senses, but also the experience and maturity to accurately calculate the dangers of various road conditions. This essay, thus, argues that states should increase the minimum driving limit to an age universally considered as mature. This argument is chiefly grounded on the fact that most teens lack the necessary experience to exercise quick sound judgment when the circumstance calls for it, or the necessary self-control from being distracted.
The minimum driving age in most states is too low and this does not bode well for road traffic safety. In the US, there is no universal minimum age, but states set their own minimum driving age and the majority of states set their minimum driving age at 16, with a few even setting it below that age. According to the Office of Highway Policy Information, there are 211,814,830 licensed drivers all over the United States as of 2012. More than 26 million of these drivers are below the age of 25, and more than 8 million are 19 years of age and below. Nine of the 50 states allow teenagers aged below 16 years old to drive. Iowa has the largest number of drivers below the age of 16, viz. 44,904 as of 2012, followed by Kansas. Other states with similar driver licensing policies are Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming (Office of Highway Patrol 2013).
The exercise of self-control and sound judgment is very important in driving and most teenagers have not developed these skills yet. These attributes are generally associated with experience, which very young people do not have. In the US, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people from ages between 15 and 20. Compared to other age groups, the ratio of motor vehicle crashes involving teen drivers is lopsided. For example, drivers aged 15 to 20 constituted only 6.7% of the driving population in 1995, yet they constituted 14% of the drivers involved in motor vehicle mishaps (Moore 1404). According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 33,808 speeding-related traffic fatalities in the US as of 2009 (cited Census Bureau 2012). This was proven in New York where a combination of delayed full licensure age, night curfews and supervised driving strategies had decreased motor vehicle accidents for drivers below the age of 24 (Moore 1404). The implication is that teen-age drivers are not yet fully equipped to meet the physical and mental complexities involved in driving.
Teenage driving carries higher risk when compared to other age groups because teenagers are a magnet to distraction or they are naturally distracted by so many things, such as cell phones, music, and by other teenage friends whom they like to take along with them. The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, for example, revealed that 41% of US teenagers combined texting or emailing with driving (Kann et al 6). In road traffic language, distracted driving refers to driver inattention shown by lack of focus on the road ahead and the task of driving because concentration is turned to other activities, such as talking over the phone and even texting. It is a type of the broader term ‘inattention,’ which could include fatigue and emotional and physical conditions of the driver. In 2009 alone, there were 30,797 fatalities due to distraction driving with more than 2 million persons injured as a consequence (Census Bureau 2012).
Experience alone is not the only factor that weighs against teen-age driving. Other factors often associated to teenagers and teenage life does not make them really suited for driving. Attributes such as habits, skills and attitudes are likewise important to a driver. Due to their young age and carefree attitude towards everything, most teenagers have not yet fully develop the right habits, such as obeying maximum speed limit and other basic traffic laws necessary for safe driving. At ages 14 to 17, most teen-agers are still struggling with their peers in high school establishing identity and working out emotional issues. Developing good habits, such obeying traffic laws, skills and the right attitude towards personal and public safety take a back seat in the meantime. This lack of necessary attributes that make up a good driver is illustrated by statistics. The CDC Youth Risk Survey 2013 for example, cited the tendency of teenagers, especially young male drivers, not to strap their seatbelts while driving. Driving while they had been drinking is also one of the tendencies that young teenage drivers have (Kann et al 5). The CDC revealed the following characteristics of teen driving: inability to appreciate or recognize dangerous situations; tendency to speed and to keep close to the rear of the vehicle ahead; in 2012, 37% and 25% of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were caught speeding and drinking, respectively; and having the lowest rate of seatbelt use (CDC 2014). All of the mentioned tendencies of teen drivers point to recklessness and the inability to strictly follow traffic laws.
The minimum driving age should be raised. A driver’s license should be issued only to a person who has attained mental maturity with enough experience to make sound judgments at critical moments. Persons between the ages of 14 to 17 are still preoccupied with the emotional, psychological and physical turmoil that accompanies the transition from childhood to adulthood. They have not yet developed a keen sense of responsibility towards themselves and the public. At present, the minimum age for driving is set at too low a level by many states. This is surprising considering that research and statistics have shown the perils being faced by very young drivers to themselves and to the public by either deliberately disobeying traffic laws and regulations, or by sheer recklessness of their and the public’s safety. Research and statistics have consistently shown that driving is not a simple matter of knowing the accelerator from the brakes or shifting gears from parking to drive. Driving is a complex task that requires the interplay of keen senses and mental alertness, and the ability to control oneself from being distracted. Teenagers have difficulty in focusing on one task because they are into so many things at once. They are all agog about texting, phone calls and having fun with friends, which does not stop even while they are driving. Such tendencies, although not unnatural for teenagers, are fatal when driving. For the sake of the young people and the public, the need to raise the minimum driving age must take place now.
CDC. Teen Drivers: Get the Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014. Web. 17 March 2015. Web. 16 March 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html
Census Bureau. 1103-Motor vehicle Accidents – Number and Deaths. 2012. Web. 17 March 2015. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/transportation/motor_vehicle_accidents_an d_fatalities.html.
Kann, Laura, Kinchen, Steve, Shanklin, Shari, Flint, Katherine, Hawkins, Joseph. Harris, William, Lowry, Richard, O’Malley Olsen, Emily, McManus, Tim, Chyen, David, Whittle, Lisa, Taylor, Eboni, Demissie, Zewditu, Brener, Nancy, Thornton, Jemekia, Moore, John and Zaza, Stephanie. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2013. 2014. Web. 15 March 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6304.pdf?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_c ampaign=youth-risk-behavior-surveillance-united-states-2013-pdf.
Moore, Martha. Comparison of Young and Adult Driver Crashes in Alaska using Linked Traffic Crash and Hospital Data. Web. 1997. 17 March 2015. http://www- nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/Esv/esv16/98S6W36.PDF.
Office of Highway Policy Information. Transportation: Motor Vehicle Accidents and Fatalities. Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation. 2013. Web. 16 March 2015. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2012/.
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