Raised Age Limits for Driving

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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A national shift to delay teenagers from driving limit at sixteen to seventeen needs to be undertaken to reduce the greater statistical odds of crashes drivers face. The collaborative efforts of Sakai et al finds teenagers are physiologically incapable of being sensible drivers (2012). The brain of a sixteen year, according to the National Institute for Mental Health, is undeveloped in areas of impulse control and contemplation of future action consequences as compared to 18 and 21-year old drivers (2017).

Lower executive functioning is associated with higher vehicle crash risk and there must be a broad policy change that increases the age limit via educative process.

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Teen drivers tend to underestimate their risk and overestimate their driving skill, an issue of immature prefrontal cortex, the ‘judgement call’ section of the brain. As the prefrontal cortex often develops last in a human, finishing around age twenty-five, the best option is to delay driving for as long as possible until the biological maturation process has come a greater way. One method by which this is done is the graduated licensing program, a state-sponsored effort to stagger the number of newly-licensed drivers. The graduated licensing program implements a certain criterion be met, in accordance to a student driver’s level of experience and circumstance, before full driving privileges are permitted. First, there is a fifty-hour practice, a limit on nighttime driving hours, and being a minimum of sixteen-and-a-half before the learner’s permit can be granted. Afterward, the driver may proceed to obtain provisional licensure, which requires nine-months of holding a learner’s permit and sixty additional hours driving experience, and then full licensure.

Sixteen-year-old students who are graduated learners are involved in fewer automotive accidents and fatalities because of their careful grooming into the driving system, up to one-third, compared to their immediately licensed peers. However, these graduated drivers still rank above in crash incidents than their older peers. Their accident averages can be brought down further if there is a postponing of driving for cerebral maturity to take place and concurrently receiving a proper education.


Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death in the young-adult age group, as uncovered by a 2016 study by Gershon et al (2018). The following months immediately after licensure are when crash risk is highest for sixteen-year-old drivers, compared to other age groups that delayed driving, finds Walshe (2017). For comparison, 2,820 sixteen-year-old teenagers were involved in a crash with a fatality, whereas only 1,783 of seventeen-year-old drivers and 1,254 of eighteen-year-old drivers had crashes (Masten and Foss, 2010). An average two people die every day in the us from vehicles driven by 16-year old’s and one in five sixteen-year old drivers will have a reportable car crash in the first year of driving (Romer 2018). One solution would be to get a learner permit at 16, have two years of practice, and then test for full licensure at 18. Mayhew and Simpson stipulate that raising the driving age by one year would delay road deaths by at least 1,300 nationally (2013).

Data by Insurance Institute for Highway Drivers Safety assesses that 75% of teenagers killed in crashes in 2016 were the driver’s passengers, 11% were pedestrians, and the remaining motorcyclists, bicyclists, and miscellaneous drivers of other types of vehicles (2016). This raises the argument that new drivers should be a minimum of 17 or 18 before begin driving legally. According to the National Transportation Driving Association, vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of death among people 15-20 years old. Over five thousand die each year in car crashes and statistics by McCartt et al find the rate for 16-year-olds is ten times higher that drivers ages 30-59 (2013). It can be argued this is because sixteen-year old teenagers are too immature for a full driver’s license. According to Cascio (2015), the crash rate of sixteen-year old’s rises with multiple teen passengers, averaging three to five times higher than if driving alone.

It can be argued that simply raising the age would be pushing the problem into another age bracket. Experience, not age, may instead be what counts in driving safety. The state with the oldest minimum age is New Jersey, where citizens must be a minimum of seventeen before undertaking the licensing process. A study by Ehsani et al shows fewer teens are killed in car crashes in New Jersey (2017). This suggests that New Jersey has safer crashing odds because of the higher minimum driving age. Currently, New Jersey is the only state with the legal driving age of seventeen and their crash and fatality rate are consistently lower than in other nearby states.

Project Need

Implementing a working knowledge of the dangers of driving too young and the benefits of postponing licensure will meaningfully aid young drivers with information that cannot be misapplied. High school driving education programs have been found to show little effect on the numbers of crashes a newly licensed driver can be expected to have. Additionally, programs such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers have not shown, to reduce teenage drinking and driving, either, according to Vernick (2009). Vehicular handling and training education have shown evidence instead of promotes an increased crash risk, according to Simons-Morton et al (2011). This is resultant of overconfidence leading to greater undertaking of risky driving, again an issue of poor judgement by an immature prefrontal cortex. Skid-avoidance, another similar training, was also found to be inappropriately applied, especially by male drivers (Christie 2009). This strongly suggests that the efforts to improve crash rates must not come from teaching better automotive handling, but sensitivity to personal limitations of age and maturity.

Project Description

This proposal seeks funds of $180,000 to produce a supplementary course that may be offered by driving education and training programs. Using a scope of nationally and locally-sourced data will provide a perspective grounded in realism that beginning drivers can easily apply to their own situations of being newly licensed and learned. An instructive film exclusively covering the demographics of teenage drivers and the statistical odds they face in terms of crash risk and fatality rate will be produced. Training will be provided from this endowment to the personnel tasked with administering this instruction specialized to the area it serves. Online modules are recommended for ease-of-access to groups not enrolled in a face-to-face course. It is recommended a financial incentivizing program be promoted with the co-operation of local insurance companies to raise enthusiasm and adherence to idea of postponing immediately becoming a licensed driver when legally permitted.


The driving education for graduated licensing students will offer a supplementary course in age-to-crash statistics. A survey after the course will be administered to assess the students’ attitudes, whether they are still willing to drive, will they delay receiving full licensure, if they feel they are better informed of the risks, etc. Upon completing the provisional driver’s license course, they will be surveyed again and questioned whether they adhered to their original decisions of driving or not driving at a later age than sixteen. This collected data will be parsed and compared to the national statistics the Center for Disease Control releases annually to evaluate if a measurable change has been made by informed drivers and their affected attitudes toward driving.


Beginning with new fiscal year, a four-month period will be allotted to produce the program advocating delaying licensure to drive until a later age. A one-month prototypal period, Month 5, will be used to rollout the program and assess for audience receptivity. The following month, the midyear period, will again see release of the newly-refined program, which will correlate with the sixteen-and-a-half-year-old teenagers who are ready to begin the licensing process. This target audience will be monitored for changes in attitudes and willingness to postpone immediate licensure in favor of adopting a graduated driving program or staggering the registration process. By the year’s end, a national tally will be juxtaposed against the locally-accrued crashes, after adjusting for ages and drivers involved in the program.

Future Funding

The program to promote graduated driving and wait for reaching the age of seventeen to drive is expected to become self-sustaining by the normal fees and registration costs paid to the adjusted rates driving schools will make when implementing the program. Insurance companies have a stake in the matter of raising driving age limits because they will avoid the financial payout normally associated with insurance coverage for automotive crashes. Their sponsorship would continue in tandem with the annual cycle of new coverage and renewed insurance policies.


The value of this study would be establishing a correlation between raised age limits for driving and the crash rates. Scientific research has established that teenage brains benefit from longer maturation periods rather than the arbitrary date of sixteen and adoption of an older licensing age limit would provide an immediate feedback of information that strengthens the case for an older driver. It is beneficial to delay the commencement of driving to a later period, preferably at seventeen, rather than the national average of sixteen years old. The training (or lack thereof) that potential drivers receive, and the associated crash rate will be instrumental in developing new laws that are mutually beneficial to the populace, and both private and public enterprises.

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Raised age limits for driving. (2021, Oct 16). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/raised-age-limits-for-driving/