Should the Driving Age be Raised to 21?
If driving was taken away from anyone under the age of 25 because anyone under this age was accused of being too young and unable to make the right decisions, how would this impact the functionality of our society? Neuroscience has begun to challenge the effectiveness of laws regulating the rights of adolescents yet at age 18 adolescents are legally treated as adults and given many of the same rights as adults. Many people in the legal system look to brain research to decide challenges in lawmaking. Experts have found that the brain is not fully developed until age 25 yet some laws may be difficult to enforce at such a late age. The question of whether adolescents are responsible enough to be able to handle certain rights before the brain is fully developed must also be in consideration of the importance that some rights are to young adults’ lives. From driving, to voting, to drinking, should adolescents be allowed to have the same rights as adults although neuroscience says otherwise?
Driving is a key point in adolescents’ lives not just as a rite of passage but as an essential part of their lives. In the majority of States in America, the minimum driving age is 16 but neuroscience suggests waiting almost a decade before receiving this right. Lawmakers have trusted adolescents to make the right decisions when behind the wheel, even though there is a higher possibility of an accident. Lawmakers have set the driving age at this age because of the necessities our society asks of young people before the age of 25. Young adults are required to find transport to their jobs, school, Even though driving accidents can occur, being able to drive is essential for transportation without having to rely on parents or public transport.
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According to Greenblatt, although the brain is not fully developed until age 25, people are capable of performing adult functions adequately at an earlier age (21). In other words they are developed sufficiently enough to handle most responsibilities. He also states that growing into adulthood is a process and introducing young people to increasing levels of responsibilities is an effective policy (23). Lawmakers have chosen driving as one of the first steps for teens to prove their responsibility in comparison to drinking or voting. In raising the driving age, teens would lose rights which would be difficult to enforce, instead of teaching adolescents about the importance of safety and how to treat the responsibilities they are given.
The factor laws are trying to address is the right age for driving but because everyone matures differently, is age an issue or is it a lack of experience? If the driving age was raised it would only raise accidents to a higher age along with it. Robert Epstein conducted a study that showed 30 percent of American teens are more competent that the median adult in a variety of areas (29). Although teens are underage, car crashes are the leading death in all age groups over the age of 4 (Drive-Safely.net ) adults are still guilty of making mistakes and being distracted just as much as adolescents. In this case, education would be the best solution. Giving teens more information about the safety requirements of driving may be of more benefit than simply raising the age requirement.
Many factors, both scientific and fundamental have resulted in the complication of what would seem a simple age. Raising the driving age would require parents to drive their teens, lead to less experienced drivers in the future, allow less freedom for adolescents as they mature, and enforcing it would be difficult considering that the laws would be taking their rights away instead of teaching them how to use them properly. By maintaining the driving age at 16 it gives adolescents a chance to learn how to responsibly manage their freedom and rights without having to rely on a parent or public transport. Although neuroscience provides alternative suggestions it is clear that the current driving age is appropriate seeing that driving requires experience rather than age.