Social Issues / The Driving Age Should Be Raised To 18
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Autor: macielyn 20 July 2011
Words: 1144 | Pages: 5
DRIVING AT SIXTEEN
A right of passage is a ritual that marks the change in a person's social or sexual status which is normally surrounding events such as childbirth or menarche. In adolescents however, the term refers more specifically to certain milestones that youths discover and conquer, such as puberty, coming of age, and most importantly the right to become a legal driver. In North America, training and receiving your drivers license is thought of as being a more significant marker in transition to adulthood, however, at sixteen the question remains if adolescents are mature and responsible enough to handle the responsibilities and pressures that are required to be a safe driver.
For both men and women, California teenagers aged 16- to 19-years-old have the highest average annual crash and traffic violation rates per 100 drivers. Their high crash rates per 100,000 miles driven are matched only by drivers age 85+ (Janke, Masten, McKenzie, Gebers, & Kelsey, 2003). The over involvement of teenagers in crashes is not unique to California; it is a problem nationwide and worldwide (Twisk, 1996; Williams, 1996). In fact, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers across the United States (Foss & Goodwin, 2003; Jonah, 1986; Mayhew & Simpson, 1999; Shope & Molnar, 2003). High teen crash risk is due to a number of factors, including an obvious fundamental lack of driving skill. However, contrary to what one might think, the evidence suggests that poor vehicle control skills account for only 10% of novice driver crashes; the remaining 90% is accounted for by factors such as inexperience, immaturity, inaccurate risk perception, overestimation of driving skills, and risk taking (Edwards, 2001). There are also certain psychological characteristics, such as sensation seeking, and driving situations, such as nighttime driving or carrying passengers, that put teens at higher crash risk. Finally, although drivers of all ages drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol, teens have had much less experience doing so, which further contributes to their higher crash rates. Research regarding the major factors that increase teen crash risk are primary concerns for both the provincial government and driving service corporations, therefore, they are focusing on as well as providing countermeasures that could be used to reduce the risk of fatalities before and after adolescents become licensed.
Aside from the primary aspects of concerns for young teen drivers being high fatality and crash rates, adolescents also create increased car insurance rates, motor vehicle costs for parents, stress on family relationships, and opportunities for drinking and driving. However, most adults will solely focus on the negative aspects and remember the time when they first received their license, whereas, they should also be considering the positive aspects that do exist. Since parents and guardians try to protect their kids as much as possible it is understandable why they are so cautious and worried about their teens when they start to drive. Nevertheless, the truth remains that it does allows adolescents the opportunity to learn to be responsible for both themselves, the vehicle, and its passengers. This opportunity for teens to prove themselves both to their parents and peers allows them to gain feelings of self esteem, self reliance, and a form of independence. Therefore, the positive social and behavioural steps that adolescents gain during their driving experience prepare them for later challenges that they may face in their later teenage years.
Due to psychological and peer complications that would arise with delaying adolescents right of passage to drive, I believe it is better to consider the alternatives such as driving restrictions so that adolescents are still allowed the opportunity and ability to feel independent and self reliant. I fear that delaying these important psychological and personal developmental stages could result in teens lashing out in other ways so that they can gain self reliance and separation from their parents, as viewed by themselves and their peers. Even though a National Institute of Health study suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25, it is evident that not all adolescents develop their cognitive abilities at the same rate. also, it is apparent that each adolescent is unique in maturity levels as well and therefore, insteading of discriminating against all youth I think that countermeasures should be tested before the legal drivers age is changed.
Countermeasures used to reduce the crash risk of teen drivers included driver improvement programs, driver education and training, special licensing programs for teens (provisional and graduated licensing), and curfew laws. Research suggests that driver education and driver training are not effective for reducing the crash and violation rates for teens who are trained. Experts suggest that driver education and training be integrated into graduated licensing programs as multi- level courses and that the programs be more geared towards teaching teens how to make good driving decisions and be aware of risk behaviors and driving conditions. Both provisional licensing and graduated licensing programs attempt to reduce the crash risk of teens by requiring them to gain experience under less-risky conditions before being allowed to drive unsupervised. Evaluations of these programs in the US and elsewhere suggest that they are indeed effective at reducing teen crash risk when they delay licenser or reduce unsupervised teen driving under high-risk conditions (i.e., with teen passengers and at nighttime). Therefore, general nighttime curfews, zero-tolerance laws, and lowered legal substance levels for teens have also been shown to be associated with reductions in teen crash rates. The effectiveness of standard driver improvement countermeasures in reducing crashes, however, is not as clear. The California teen driver improvement program, in which they are subject to sanctions and penalties at lower point thresholds than for adults, has been found to contribute to reduced crash and violation rates. However, some research suggests that teens respond differently to standard countermeasures than do older drivers. More research is needed to determine the optimal system for teen post-license control, particularly given that accelerated-sanctioning programs are important components of other countermeasures (e.g., graduated licensing).
There is no denying that when a adolescents takes their seat behind the wheel of a car they are in dangerous position, one is which they do always have full control over. Nevertheless, I do not believe that increasing the legal driving age will change the percentages of teenage fatalities or car crashes because even though teen driver crashes are the leading cause of death for our nation's youth. The overwhelming majority of these crashes are caused by inexperience or distractions, not "thrill-seeking" or deliberate risk-taking. (Source: Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2003. 35: p. 921-925). Therefore, it is evident that no matter the age youth and adults will always be inexperienced to start and there are always distractions to new drivers, therefore, age and new experimental research regarding cognitive development should not hinder or effect the legal driving age in North America.
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