Should The Driving Age Be Raised To 18?

By Eric Peters, Automotive Columnist

Is 16 too young to drive?

If you’re 16. you probably think not. But it’s those over 16 — adults like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Adrian Lund — who will get to be the deciders on this one. Lund and some others want to push the age at which a person can get their first driver’s license to 17 or even 18.

Of course, it’s all about “safety.”

Lund — a professional nag who heads an organization of nags — says that teenage drivers are a menace to themselves and others and wants to use the billy stick of the federal government (via withheld highway funds) to compel states to raise their legal driving age — just as the billy stick of federal money was used to impose the 55 mph speed limit, virtual Prohibition of alcohol and “primary enforcement” seat belt laws.

This time, it’s not merely “for the children” — it actually involves them.

And Lund is partially right. Teenagers do get into more than their fair share of wrecks. But is this due to their age — or their lack of training/experience?

There are some very young pro drivers — from NHRA to NASCAR. Maybe not sixteen-year-olds, but not far removed. At 15 or 16, some of these kids are better drivers than most of us will ever be. What to make of this fact?

Granted, these are exceptional kids — but the point’s not invalid: Experience and training probably mean a whole lot more than age — as such.

Will raising the age to 17 or 18 give a kid more experience — or less? Maybe the age at which we begin to train kids to drive should be lowered, not raised. Does it make more — or less — sense to toss a kid with zero hours behind the wheel a set of car keys at 17 or 18, when he is inches way from being legally free of any parental oversight whatsoever?

Maybe it would make more sense to begin teaching kids how to drive around 14 or 15 — easing them into it gradually, and with supervision — so that by the time they are 17 or 18 they have three or four years of experience behind them. That’s actually the way it used to be done, until public institutions such as public schools took over from parents and the whole process became bureaucratized and officialized — but with less than stellar results.

Driving is, after all, a skill like any other; it is not mastered overnight — or after a few weeks of classroom instruction and a couple of hours in the seat.

Logic says start them sooner, not later.

But that would make sense — and making sense is what IIHS is not all about. It exists to harp over problems often directly ginned up by its own propaganda. Mandatory buckle-up laws are an example of this. Ditto the neo-Prohibitionist crusade that has gone way beyond a legitimate effort to deal with drunk drivers that now mercilessly prosecutes people with trace amounts of alcohol in their system — as little as .06 or even .04 BAC, the level an average person can reach after having had a single glass of wine over dinner.

But I digress.

The other half of the equation when it comes to new/teenage drivers is proper instruction. What we do in this country — for the most part — is woefully inadequate. Many parents set poor examples — or are simply ill-equipped to properly instruct their kids in safe/competent driving. Ditto the so-called “schools” (especially those offered by the public schools) and the at-best cursory testing done by most DMVs before that first license is issued.

We don’t really show kids how to drive — especially how to handle emergency, such as a slide on black ice. Instead, we chant cant at them that’s obvious BS, such as “speed kills” — the driving equivalent of the BS about “marihuana” that’s peddled to them in Just Say No sessions. Kids are smart enough to see through this — but immature enough to then regard everything they’re taught by adults as BS.

This is dangerous.

Far better to really teach them — and to be honest with them.

I’d be ready to lay serious cash on the table to bet Lund that if you took an average 14 or 15 year old and had him or her trained by an expert instructor and properly supervised for a year or two before a provisional license was granted — after which the kid would still be monitored and quickly reined in at the first sign of reckless or incompetent behavior — the whole “teenage driver” thing would just disappear.

Problem is, there’s no money in that. Finding solutions to problems is not what IIS wants. IIHS wants crusades that never end. Just like MADD; just like politicians.

Just like the whole lot of them.


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159 Responses to “Should The Driving Age Be Raised To 18?”

  1. Randall says:

    Age has almost nothing to do ith this. It is all about experience. My aunt didn't get her license until she was almost 30! I was 16 at the time and rove better than her. She was littrally afraid to get behind the wheel and when she got her license and drove it was like a 16 year old or worse. It has everything to do with experience and nothing to do with age. Last time I checked the older you are the harder it is to learn, so maybe it should be lowered. I'm not a parent yet but when I am I will be pissed if I have to drive my 16 year old to everything. What about farming states with ages as low as 14. Kids need licenses to drive the big tractors to help out on the farm, will they ban those too? if it's all about age then we should just raise it to 25 years old after all that when your insurance goes down because of your age and risk goes down.

  2. John G says:

    I think federal blackmale is appalling. It is just a why for tyrants in the federal government to circumvent the constitution and States' Rights in a way the founding fathers never intended. One must never forget the spirit in which the document was written and ask yourself if the founders would have ever approved bypassing the 10th amendment by allowing the federal government to become so massive and to levy so much tax on the populace that it could hold financial sway over all the states. It is a scam the federal government is using to consolidate power.

    10th Amendment:
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  3. Highway says:

    It doesn't help that current 'Driver Education' is a complete joke. Worthless classroom time learning 'rules of the road' that are rarely followed, on road time with someone who's watching a clock, in an unfamiliar vehicle.

    To safely drive on public roads, you don't even need an expert instructor. All you need is the ability to correctly judge the road conditions, to signal your intentions clearly, to move with a minimum of indecision (even if it's not where you really wanted to go, you can correct that), and a sense of self-preservation combined with a respect for other vehicles on the road.

    Instead we get safety by talisman. Put on the magic seat belt. Be over a specific age. Don't go near these items or substances. Pay your tribute.

  4. Robert says:

    In Michigan, under the graduated driver licensing system which began about ten years ago, a young person can legally start getting that supervised experience on the public roads at 14 years, 9 months of age, the minimum age for a Class 1 license. Someone should do a study to see if it has made any difference.

  5. Cliff says:

    15 is a good age. That gives them 2 years of experiance before they leave home and go to college.

  6. Todd says:

    I seen this on the news this morning and just found an interesting article at:

  7. Randy says:

    It is both about age and experience somewhere around 50/50. Many younger drivers that I have heard about got in accidents driving less than 20 mph. Parking lot accidents and hitting things usually. Mostly because they were not paying attention and being cautious which is caused by lower age and low experience. Young drivers have more of a tendency to drive too fast also for conditions or their ability because the judgment of younger drivers is more reckless. Some states require 50 hours of supervised driving before taking the wheel by themselves and they still get into more problems. I think it is a decision to be made by the states and the parents.

    Randall, I know of no states that require you to have a license to drive a farm tractor. There may be one out there somewhere but I doubt it. I also did not see that they wanted the federal goverment to make the law but I may have missed it in the article.

  8. Todd says:

    Maybe they should make the age for a kid to obtain a permit 14 years old. They should also require that kids between ages 14-16 to do 100 hours with there parents during the day and 30 hours during the night in order to get a license. This would help the teen to get more experiance behind the wheel while their parents correct any mistakes that their teen does when driving. As for drivers ed they should make 60 hours in class rules of the road study in which really works with a well trained driving instructor. 20 hours on road with the driving instructor and one of the most important ones would be to have the teen take a driving simulation class where they can practice all of the emergency avoidence manuvers unstead of on the real road in which would be too risky. As for a license it should be set a 16 which would allow the teen 2 years experiance with their parents. The road test for that license should be really effective in testing the teens skill in a way which is safe and reasonable. For example like a 1 hour drive with the license tester who will test the teens driving skills. Automatic failure for the teen if he or she makes more than 2 really minor mistakes and 1 mistake that puts people and property at risk. The license for 16 should (I don't know if all states have this but some do) only allow the teen to carry 1 person under 18 years of age and no driving pass 10 pm or before 5 am (with some reasonalbe exceptions). The teen must have a hands free device for their cell phone and only make calls in which is reasonabley important. Last 17 in a half should be when a teen can obtain a full class drivers license.

    Thats just my idea. Any suggestions?

    P.S – Not all teens are BAD DRIVERS because some are very reasponsible however there are BAD APPLES out there that should have there license taken away from them and also depending on the circumstance a chance to obtain their liscense again at like say 25 years of age but they have to go through the whole process again.

  9. Derrick says:

    We should have the learner's permit age at 14 like in South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, and Kansas where you can get your license at 15. The states that set their permit age at 15 and the age to get a license at 15 1/2 are New Mexico, South Carolina, and Mississippi. These states don't have high accident rates. New Jersey has one of the worst accident rates in the country and yet the licensing age is 17(due to density, NOT AGE!) and are corrupt! If you ask me the age to get your driver's license should be 15 so that way people learning to drive can be more relaxed and learn better and become safer drivers than SOME elderly drivers. BUT first you would get a learner's pemit at 14 and practice 50-100 hours with 5-10 hours of nighttime driving and holding the permit for 6 to 12 months(half with Driver's education like South Dakota). Nighttime curfew would be from 11pm-5am and 1 non-family passenger under 17 or 18 for the first 6 months making the full licensing age at 16 or 16 1/2. Only 7 states license those under 16:

    State: Permit: Provisional:
    South Dakota 14 years 14 years, 3-6 months
    Idaho 14.5 years 15 years
    Montana 14.5 years 15 years
    Kansas 14 years 15 years
    South Carolina 15 years 15.5 years
    Mississippi 15 years 15.5 years
    New Mexico 15 years 15.5 years

    Have you joined yet?

    If age was the case, then south dakota would have the highest accident rate but that's not logical since it's not alot of traffic.

  10. pete says:

    im the best driver in the world. im only 12

  11. The Ranch girl says:

    It is called being free. Just think back when you were 14 15 years old and how bad you wanted to drive. For some kids they have to drive. Gas is so high our family can't afford to run me back and forth to school. When you become 14 15 you get a little more independence and get more resoponsipility. Having a driving lisense would give a kid more resopnsibilty haveing to put gas in it for example. If they forget someone is going to have to walk. Kids then start to think about stuff more. In my stand point kids need to have that independence. The people who came up with this law came up with it for a reason. Do not mess with it. I am 13 and probobly have more experence then most adults driving.

  12. Randy says:

    Ranch girl there is driving and then there is driving. If you are a ranch girl you may have learned to back up a four wheel wagon and drive a pickup to the field on the back roads but there is a lot of difference driving with the drivers in big cities where they are coming at you from all directions at 80 mph cutting in front of you and riding your tailgate. My nephew was driving at 2 different small vehicles but I would not want him on the road.

  13. Todd says:

    Randy if the city is so big and is filled with alot of cars, people walking around, traffic, etc then how in the world can somebody go 80 mph in such limited space. Maybe they can but only crazy people who do this since they have to jump sidewalks, cross the center line, or weave through traffic (ok maybe this last one is more common) in order to go 80 mph. When I was on vacation with my family we went to Las Vegas and I never saw people doing 80 mph in the city. I just heard more honking. Which city are you taking about that has people doing 80 mph?

  14. Randy says:

    Todd cities like Chicago when it is not stop and go and according to people from Michigan, every city in Michigan on an interstate of course.

  15. Jeff says:

    In Chicago all the speed limits are 55, but none of the locals drive slower than 70 (and they get the privilege of paying tolls to do it).

  16. The Ranch Girl says:

    Randy I get you point. And you are right that is the kind of driving I am used to. And I do get i don't have all that to do deal with where i drive. At the same time I think if kids get started driving at a earlier time then as they get older they will get more and more safe behind the wheel. I do see you point.

  17. Daryn Paladino says:

    Well i like ur point but stil……

  18. mike says:

    it should be 12 not 18 not 16

  19. Pedro says:

    I think driving is an act of responsibility and independence, and it is never certain that a 16 year old will be able to carry such responsibility… so i agree, the age should be raised

  20. kym says:

    they shouldn't becuase it helps us become more mature and helps us take resposibility for our actions. they shouldn't because that will only make them more anxious to drive which could therefore make them too excited when behind the wheel and will make them most likely cause an accident.

  21. Brittany says:

    the driveing age should not be raised. i think this because in NJ the driveing age is already 16 when they get there permit and 17 is when the get the restricted lisence. the people in nj are already talking about highering it. and there are people who are 18 on the roads who shouldnt even be there it shouldnt matter about age it should matter about the teenageers responsibility

  22. PAblo says:

    Driving should be illeagal all together. lets all walk ya lazy b****s

  23. Mitae says:

    Well i think they shud raise it because to many teenagers are getting into accidents and alot of them are drinking and driving and getting into a lot of trouble

  24. Sarah says:

    NO! they should not raise it, whats the point. if a kid is 18 or 16 they are still going to be likely to drink. no matter what age they are they all have the same chances of getting drunk & jumping behind the wheel. i am going to be 16 in almost 3 months & i don't think its right to punish everyone for some peoples stupid mistakes of drinking, driving & crashing! i believe in rights & driving at 16 has always been one right that i do get & will succeed in winning.

  25. Colby says:

    They really should not raise the driving limit to 18. It is just absurd. I read on another website that teens "race" their friends on the highway and have a higher chance of having accidents. That is just stupidity. Any other decent, and I use the term semi-loosely, driver would just give a little wave to their friend or something else, they should know what might happen. Also when it comes right down to it, experience is all that matters. If you start making an 18 year old just learn how to drive, they do not legally have to listen to an adult anymore and can legally do almost whatever they want. If they would raise the driving age, they would have to raise the drinking and adult starting age. Well in my own opinion alcohol and cigarettes are the dumbest thing anyone could make, but anyway you would have to set more limits if you raise the driving age limit. Also What are they going to do with the people that are under 18 and are learning and/or driving already? Just make them stop and say, "You can't drive anymore." This is just outrageous

  26. ELLA BLEM says:


  27. kierra says:

    i dont think the drivin age should go up;
    beacuse it done matter if your 16 when you get your drivers lisence or 55
    beacuse still you are just as unexperenced is what most people try to say
    but thats not true im only 15 and ive drove more then once and im not even old enough to drive any one at any age can get behind the wheel and drive but there is very many axidents in teenagers dieing in car crashes but there is many adults to i dont think they should rise the age , but i do think kids should not mess around when there drivin either beacuse it causes a chash. some states have evn made it lower.

    State: Permit: Provisional:
    South Dakota 14 years 14 years, 3-6 months
    Idaho 14.5 years 15 years
    Montana 14.5 years 15 years
    Kansas 14 years 15 years
    South Carolina 15 years 15.5 years
    Mississippi 15 years 15.5 years
    New Mexico 15 years 15.5 years

    • amalan says:

      But if you notice, all of the states you noted have a really low population. States like New Jersey require a person to be at least 17 to get a permit and 18 to get a license.

    • kelly says:

      The driving age should deffinently be raised to 18. There are people who are older that 30 and can't drive worth a crap. Cutting people off, flashing brights, on your tail and much more. Kids 16 seem too imature and if they start doing what the older inexperienced driver does, they could really get hurt. At least the person who is older has most likely been driving for a long time. Young people should have the opportunity to begin drivers ed. and other sorts of programs when the turn 15 and have a few years of practice with and adult with them. That, I think would give them a lot of good experiences. I'm only 19 myself, and i think i could have used a lot of extra practice. Sometimes being careless, not really paying attention.

  28. Nicole says:

    I think the driving age should get raised to 18. Just think about it! Driving is no joke but teens think it is. They think its cool to show off for their friends, do donuts, and speed. Driving can cause death of not only the driver but all the passengers. How would a 16 year old feel if they got into an accident and they lived but the rest of your loved ones died. Just thinking about how you killed some of your family membors and friends will haunt you for the rest of your life! Another thing teens are to concentrated in when they are driving is their cellphones, blasting their music, and all their friends as the passengers. Teens are very irresponsible and some are very immature! Teens think its cool to race but really its not. Its a good chance of risking your life! Do you know how many teens get in accidents these days? Teens also dont pay attension to weather condition they speed either way. They dont watch where their going and pull out of places before they even see if anything is coming their way. They dont follow the signs on the road. Yes i understand how bad 16 year olds want to drive. I think you should atleast be allowed to get your learners permit at 16 but shouldnt be allowed to get your license until the age of 18. That way they have more experince and maybe less accidents.

    • John says:

      18 year olds are just as likly to do these acts as 16 year olds, the 18 year olds are more likely to do these things while under the influence

  29. Darien says:

    why should the poeple who drive safely get punished and get their drivers license taken away? please comeplete an answer and notify me why.

  30. Darien says:

    i think we should lower it so younger versions could try and be responsable about the situation!!

  31. Jen says:

    I think they should raise the age to 18. I am 16 myself and I have my liscence. Too many of my friends are irresponsible and can not handle the maturity needed to drive a car. Its not just the fact that there lives might be endangered its the fact that they are putting the risk of ordinary people like my parents at risk.

  32. Nicole says:

    Because all the 16 year olds who can get their license isnt always safe to even though they drive safety.. what if their friends act irresponsible and end up killing the responsible friend?? they will both be in danger too.. i am 17 and have my license but i have alot of friends who died in accidents because they were trying to show off and do stupid stuff because they are irresponsible and they were 16.. that is wayy to young to die just because you got in an accident.. thats horrible. driving really isnt a joke

  33. Shelly B says:

    I think that the driving age should not be raised to 18. My point is that no matter how old u are u stil have to get a license but if u got a license at an early age it will enable u to have more experience and take more responsibilites at an older age.

  34. Bill Shawn B.S. says:

    It's very dumb to raise it to 18. 2 years of age won't make such a difference in maturity at all. All it is, is waiting 2 more years to be inexpierenced on the roads. The accidents are caused by teens who are irresponsible not immature.Not all teens should be punished for those not raised right or just simply being morons.

  35. Nicole says:

    well like i said before maybe 16 year olds should be allowed to get their learners permit at 16 and have to wait to get their license until 18.. that way they do have more experience on the roads with an adult for 2 years instead of only 6 months then they will really get more responsible

  36. Ben Dover says:

    I think everyone should just stop talking about it. Arguing on this site isn't going to change anything. Go take it up with the goverment. P.S. I walk everywhere and it's a lot nicer.

  37. I. Will Kilu says:

    The driving age should be made 50 so everyone is nice and healthy and loved.

  38. KimChi says:

    Hey I'm KimChi and I think that we tenagers should take drivers ed at 14 and take the class for 2 or so years so that every teenager with have alot experience and practice on the road. I think that this decision will lower car accidents and the death rate. Please think about what I'm saying and consider it. Thx for reading.

  39. bob says:

    thats what i say keep it at 16!!

  40. cant say says:

    the driving age should stay at 16. just have the drivers ed start at 14 so there is more time to learn things bout driving. they may say there is more saftey if they are older when they drive, then most teens will drive illegaly because they what to get to work and/or go to partys. they may like to get to more places.

  41. ethan says:

    I think you should have more stuf on 16-20 on here

  42. Carly Lymae says:

    You people need to learn how to spell!!! Who are you? Five year olds? Idiots? I mean seriously guys, come on. I'm looking at some of the comments and I find it very disturbing when I see the word "driving" spelled like "driveing". You guys are pathetic. Oh, and BTW it's stuff NOT stuf, TWO F's loser!

  43. corbin says:

    Ya they should learn how to spell, not the best info. :(

  44. Brooke says:

    I think they should move it up. I am about to get my drivers license and I'm scared to death about driving on my roads. I agree. who cares if they can't spell. It's the message behind it.

  45. Roman says:

    Man you are really good. But 14 year old children are really dangerous driver. I mean sum of us are good but some of em are really bad they will make racing to each other.. and thats not all.. they might even start showing off to the girls to be liked.. so yee.. your point of view is good but.. Does fools goverments will just keep on saying that it will kill all population… but haha we kiling are selves.. Geting drunk high smoke fight and god only knows what else are they do .. ^.^

  46. dan says:

    if i am sixteen and i and going to take drivers ed this year will i still be able to get my license.
    and i live on a farm so i have to do running for my parent so will this age change affect me

  47. alex says:

    yea i just turned 16 yesterday and now i keep hearing that they are changiong the driving age to 18 this is really big BS becuase the legal driving age should be 16 and you should start learning driving at like 14 so that you have more experience behind the wheele so that you know what you are doing and that way you will be more safe……IT SHOULD STAY 16 IT HAS BEEN THIS WAY FOR YEARS WHY CHANFE IT NOW THIS MAKES NO SENCE WHAT SO EVER

  48. BEAN DIP says:

    i think you should have more stats on the accidents in the us from 16 year olds and 18 year olds.

  49. ts says:

    this is alright info for my essay

  50. Lane says:

    I totally agree with this! Brilliant!