Better stay home with your parents, kid

by Walter Olson on February 27, 2013

Watch out for this soon to be up-and-coming Safety First proposal, as outlined by Vivian Hamilton of William and Mary Law: raising the driving age from 16 to 18. [Concurring Opinions]

{ 12 comments }

1 Ron Miller 02.27.13 at 10:16 pm

Well, we have to do something to tackle this. We are losing to many kids in that age range on our roads. The statistics, which I can’t recite, are just tragic. Our very young and very old are killing themselves… and us.

I think it is a mistake to digest this issue from a “government intrusion in our lives” perspective. Certainly, government can set a minimum age. And it is fair game to look at 2013 and see if we are getting it right.

I also think there could be more narrowly tailored restrictions that might solve the problem. I know some states have done this. I don’t know how successful they have been.

2 aaaa 02.28.13 at 3:57 am

@Ron Miller The problem is that they simply need a car to be halfway independent in most places and these are ages where they should move around independently. If you live somewhere with acceptable public transport, then I guess raising driving age is ok.

Expecting parents to drive 17 years old to and from whatever sport he does, a job if he has one or date is a little bit on helicopter side.

3 Marturion 02.28.13 at 10:14 am

Some parents are so concerned with safety that they never let their kids out of their sight. How often are kids allowed to ride on their bicycles arounfd the neighborhood ? I think that this–riding your bike around–is a first step to learning how to drive. You have to learn to be conscious of your surroundings and develop some situational awareness.

4 Small Government Guy 02.28.13 at 10:46 am

I’m always suspicious of writers who only use percentages to prove a point, and, sure enough, in the comments someone actually quotes an accident rate, which demonstrates driving has become much safer overall.

I suspect we are talking about statistical insignificance here, hence the author’s choice of numbers.

5 Leland D. Davis 02.28.13 at 12:58 pm

Also, while part of the problem with teen drivers is immaturity, a big part of the problem is inexperience with driving. I used to work in a biotech lab with alot of people who came to the US from India or China, and who had never driven an automobile before coming to the US. New drivers in the 30 something range often find driving an automobile to be an intimidating experience, but then, after a year or two on the road, they become quite adept at it. I am not sure to what extent raising the driving age would not simply raise the high accident rate age along with it, so that we would be hearing about 18 yo getting in accidents all the time.

6 Ron Miller 02.28.13 at 1:17 pm

aaaa, I agree it is more complicated than just looking at the statistics and changing the age. It is just a little hard to get in the weeds of the inconveniences for me when we are counting dead kids. The flip side of that is the fact that society consents to dead kids just by allowing motor vehicle traffic in the first place. So the question, then, is just where do we draw the line? I have an opinion. But it is hard to get on my high horse about it when we all – all of us – knowingly consent to almost 100 people dying on our roads every day.

7 Frank 02.28.13 at 1:47 pm

As far as I know, currently it is not uncommon for high school sophomores in the US to have reached age 16. In fact several sources place average graduation age at 18, which places 16 as average age for 10th graders.

Should 10th gradera be driving? IMO No.

8 aaaa 02.28.13 at 4:23 pm

@Ron Miller Well, we live in the safest era ever. Not only that, we live in a safety obsessed society, safety seems to be a priority number one no matter what the price. Especially when it comes to kids.

It is true that we knowingly consent to almost people dying on our roads every day. We also knowingly consent to people (including kids) dying from curable diseases and injuries. We also knowingly consent to people being murdered (we could be much safer if we would give up on significant parts of freedom).

Safety is a trade of, everywhere and every-time. Sometimes it is worth it other times it is not. It is not a good idea to ignore the cost of additional safety, otherwise we will pay too much for marginal improvements.

Back to main topic: parents having to drive teenagers everywhere is not only about parental inconvenience. For example, parents with jobs are not going to be able to drive them everywhere, so those teenagers will often simply have to give up extracurricular activities,jobs and non-school face to face social contact. The same goes for parents with multiple kids.

Teenagers are supposed to move out of their parents house in a next three years or less. If we entirely restrict their independent movements in the name of safety, we should not complain and blame them if they turn out to be less independent and more clueless as we were. It is going to be us who made them that way.

Btw, I think that parental inconvenience should be a factor (up to point). Again, if we decide that parental inconvenience does not matter at all, we should not complain about helicopter parenting. That is what we expect and demand by making convenience considerations inappropriate.

9 Ron Miller 03.01.13 at 1:32 pm

Frank, I don’t think anyone would say that parental inconvenience “does not matter.” It is all about the trade-offs we are willing to make. As I said above, we should not be surprised that reasonable people draw the line in different places.

I don’t think that children’s achieving maturity and independence is wedded tightly to their being able to drive a car. There are other ways to skin that cat then letting them drive.

10 sadie 03.01.13 at 1:47 pm

This will lead to a large number of inexperienced 18 – 21 year old drivers, which will probably just increase the accident rate in different age group. Teens need more and better drivers ed and more time to practice under supervision. They are not going to be better drivers just because they start at an older age. Start the process at 14 and let them get more experience before sending them off on their own.

11 Walter Olson 03.01.13 at 11:14 pm
12 aaaa 03.02.13 at 9:45 am

@Ron Miller “I don’t think that children’s achieving maturity and independence is wedded tightly to their being able to drive a car. There are other ways to skin that cat then letting them drive.”

That depends on whether it is possible to get somewhere without the car. If you can take a bus, walk or bike and get to most places, then ability to drive the car is not important.

If you driving car is the only way how to transport yourself, then it is quite important factor.

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