Today’s world is quite different from that of the past, especially with regards to the amount of freedom that children are allowed. In the past, one would be required to work hard in school, graduate, find a job then perhaps afford to buy oneself a car. This is not the case today. With today’s children, parents are all about making them happy as well as making up for a lost time, considering the fact that most parents are absentees due to their work schedules (Fleming, 54).
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Children as young as 16 years can now afford driving permits in some states within the United States. For instance, according to Phoenix laws in Arizona, children under the age of 18 years can obtain Graduated Driver License but need to have completed 20 hours of supervised, behind-the-wheel daytime driving practice (Copeland, 1). With the Class G Driver License, the teenager is not allowed to drive between midnight and 5 am unless accompanied by a legal guardian or parent who also has a valid driving license. Anyone found going against these laws is liable to conviction (Winters, 77).
Personally, I do not think that 16-year-old children should be allowed to drive or be given driving permits; this is what my claim will argue. In this day and age, we have seen a lot of children driving cars without driving licenses. Such children are mostly taught by their peers and, therefore, do not necessarily pass through the legal requirements of obtaining driving permits (Fahlberg, 20). These children are also potentially at risk and also tend to put others at risk of accidents or even death as well. Children under the age of 18 years should not be allowed to get driving permits unless they are well trained in an authorized place.
There are those who may argue that children under the age of 16 years should be allowed driving permits since today’s children tend to mature rather quickly and are therefore more responsible and capable of handling themselves (Wanberge, 64). One thing that has not changed in the course of the years is the excitement that a driver’s license tends to bring to a teenager. Acquiring a driver’s license has been observed to be some sort of a rite of passage for the majority of teenagers, even though the minimum age for an unlimited license is slowly creeping up in a few states (Fleming, 55).
Those who are in support of teenagers obtaining driving permits say that to such children, getting a driver’s license is more than just freedom and independence. It usually means that the 16-year-old is one step closer to affording his/her own car (Copeland, 1). It also means that they do not have to ask for their parent’s permission in order to be driven to their friend’s house or go to the mall. Grown-ups were once teenagers, and the fact is, teenagers do not like it when they are treated as young children. Having a driving permit allows the 16-year-old to feel adult-like and responsible (Winters, 79).
Those arguing for teenagers to be allowed driving permits also suggest that having a car gives the 16-year-old a sense of pride and self-esteem. Despite the fact that some may have different opinions regarding their driving skills and still wince at the notion of handing them the keys, they will still feel great about themselves (Fahlberg, 21).
The Issue at Hand
Another reason as to why some may support 16-year-old children having driving permits is because behind the wheel practice has been observed to be the leading factor that contributes to less driving accidents (Wanberge, 69). In spite of the various advantages associated with allowing 16-year-old children to have driving permits, I still think that they should not be allowed the same. Recent studies have shown that among the main leading causes of loss of life of numerous teenagers are car accidents (Fleming, 56). According to recent statistics, 16-year-old children are far more likely to lose their lives in car accidents as compared to other drivers (Copeland, 1).
As soon as teenagers acquire their driving permits, their parents are not usually able to direct them. This is because the majority of these children are still in high school or in college and are therefore looking for self-rule and lack of restrictions (Winters, 81).
This, in turn, results in more self-confidence than necessary, making their parents lose control over their children in the process. In addition, children aged between 15 years and 16 years are still quite inexperienced in regards to life, and without their parents’ guidance, they can easily make the wrong choices or decisions. An example is given of one Alicia Betancourt, a 16-year-old high school teenager who, after obtaining her driving permit, started going out without her parents’ knowledge (Fahlberg, 22). After a while, she was found among a crowd of other young teenagers engaging in drugs.
I believe that 16-year-old children should not be given driving permits because they are generally not good drivers. The majority of them also tend to be rather self-indulgent and less mature (Wanberge, 73). Teenagers are quite audacious, and once they are behind the wheel, they mechanically want to show off by speeding up. This has been observed as being true of young teenage males. 16-year-old children are not only vulnerable because of the need for more experience behind the wheel but also due to the distinct makeup of their adolescent brain (Fleming, 57). This means that for a 16-year-old, the brain is at its peak with regard to the acquisition and retention of new information.
Areas needed for mediating emotional responses as well as impulse control are usually the very last to develop and may therefore not reach full maturing until one reaches the age of 20 years (Copeland, 1). 16-year-old drivers are also more vulnerable to distractions than other older drivers; for instance, they can be easily distracted by sending text messages to their friends. According to recent studies, drivers under the age of 18 years are more likely to utilize the phone while driving as compared to older drivers, and this is a key resultant of many accidents in the United States (Winters, 83).
Sixteen-year-old children should not be given driving permits due to the high number of accidents as well as deaths of young drivers as a result of driving. In the 1990s, an estimated 63,000 teenage drivers lost their lives in traffic accidents, meaning that more than 100 children tend to lose their lives every week. It is also unfortunate to learn that the number of 16-year-old children who lose their lives due to car accidents is rapidly increasing (Wanberge, 75).
Despite the fact that there may be those teenagers who are actually responsible behind the wheel, 16-year-olds generally have some rather depressing statistics with regards to driving. Teenage drivers, particularly males, are more likely to underestimate dangerous conditions, become distracted by their passengers, and drive too fast (Fleming, 58). Studies have also indicated that such young drivers are also less likely to wear safety belts and tend to drive while under the influence.
As we have seen earlier on, some parents argue that allowing 16-year-old children to have driving permits allows them to have the freedom and independence to drive themselves to school, thus saving their parents a lot of activity and time. However, such parents also need to remember that allowing their teenagers to drive to school can encourage truancy (Copeland, 1). Eighteen states have so far connected teenage student drivers to habitual school absence since owning a car makes it easier for them to meet up with their peers who are also skipping school.
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16-year-old children should not be allowed driving permits because they would not only cause more accidents on the road but also because they are not as mature or responsible as some people might assume them to be. Fortunately, all is not lost regarding the current problem that is being debated in most states. In the state of Arizona and specifically Phoenix, grants are driving permits to those under the age of 16 years (Fleming, 59).
A proposed solution would be to limit the circumstances under which such children should be allowed to drive. The majority of states have laws granting privileges to new drivers but in various steps referred to as Graduated Licensing Programs (Winters, 85). This program is currently being used in Phoenix, Arizona, where in order for one to apply for the license, they must have held an Arizona instruction permit, which also needs to be valid during the application period (Fahlberg, 23). Those who do not reside within the state are required to bring with them their current identification cards and driver’s license, where they will then be required to take written and driving tests (Wanberge, 80).
Another solution that would help minimize the number of car accidents caused by teenage drivers would be parents riding along with their under-aged children as much as possible, especially when they are practicing. The Phoenix community discovered that distractions such as passengers and cell phones were the leading contributors to teen accidents and decided to propose some solutions that may be effective in curbing the current problem.
As mentioned earlier, one of the distractions is other passengers, especially those who are not adults. Statistics have indicated that young drivers tend to cause more accidents when in the company of their peers in their vehicles (Copeland, 1). The best solution would therefore be not to allow those under the age of 18 years to drive their peers unless they have had a year’s experience after receiving their driver’s permit (Fleming, 60).
Another major cause of teen accidents is the use of cell phones while driving. Irrespective of one’s state laws, parents need to limit or ban their children from making use of their cell phones while driving (Winters, 87). If they really have to use the phones, teens should be encouraged to park their car in a safe location first and ensure that they are done with the call or texting before driving again; such are the laws currently being implemented in Phoenix, Arizona.
Although it is not often mentioned as being a distraction, music is also another contributor to teen accidents in most states issuing permits to those under 18 years. Loud music tends to distract the concentration of the teen driver, and they should therefore be encouraged to choose one CD, listen to songs on their iPods or one radio station, as opposed to switching from one station to the next (Fahlberg, 24). 16-year-old drivers should constantly be reminded of the importance of keeping the volume at a realistic level to enable them to hear emergency vehicles or car horns (Wanberge, 85).
Justification of the Solutions
By taking into consideration the proposed solutions, states which allow 16-year-olds to have a driver’s license will be able to minimize the number of deaths and accidents caused by these young drivers. However, if the states ignore the proposed solutions, more and more teenagers are bound to be injured or even lose their lives as a result of being given driving permits too early (Copeland, 1).
High schools, particularly those in Phoenix, Arizona, often allow 16-year-old children to drive to school as long as they have a driving permit and have obtained permission from their parents or legal guardians. Looking at what has been discussed above, those who support teenagers having driving permits argue that such children are old enough to be responsible and are no longer looked upon as children.
Even though such arguments are quite valid, they are still only a portion of the whole story. I believe that after looking at the research studies, reasons, and statistics, no intelligent individual would agree with the positive arguments. The majority of people’s lives may be in danger simply because 16-year-old children have been allowed to have driving permits. That is why the government needs to seriously take into consideration what it will be encouraging by giving these young individuals driving permits.
Copeland, Larry. Simulator Shows Young Drivers the Risk of Distraction. USA TODAY. 2012. Web.
Fahlberg, Vera I. A Child’s Journey Through Placement. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012. Print.
Fleming, Susan. Teen Driver Safety: Additional Research Could Help States Strengthen Graduated Driver Licensing Systems. Rockville, MD: DIANE Publishing, 2010. Print.
Wanberge, Kenneth W., Timken, David S., and Milkman, Harvey B. Treatment of the Underage Impaired Driving Offender: An Adjunct Provider’s Guide to Driving with Care. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010. Print.
Winters, Adam. Everything You Need to Know about Being a Teen Driver. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2000. Print.