In Pennsylvania, 16 year-olds who pass a permit test are able to receive their driver’s permit. 6 months later, teens are eligible to take their driver’s test, and ultimately get their license. These rules vary slightly from state to state, but the overall rule is that drivers in the United States are eligible to get their driver’s license during their teenage years. Some people feel that this is appropriate, but other feel that 16 and 17 year-olds are much too young to be driving. Are teenagers old enough to be driving? Are younger drivers more likely to get into accidents than older drivers? Does texting play a role in the number of crashes that teens get into?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,270 teenagers aged 16-19 were killed in car accidents in the year 2014. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for this age group. This is an extremely high amount of deaths related to an activity that many teens engage in every day. According to the IIHS, the rate of deaths by car accident is three times higher for the 16-19 age group than it is for drivers aged twenty years or older. This data suggests that younger drivers are not yet mature enough to have their licenses. If teenaged drivers are three times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents, then maybe these drivers should not be driving on the roads after all. Now, this data could all be due to chance, but the data discovered by the IIHS shows that the younger the driver is, the more likely it is that he or she will be involved in a fatal crash. The data collected seems to be highly correlational.
It is possible that younger drivers are more likely to be involved in car crashes due to distracted driving. One observational study, conducted by the CDC, examined the distracted driving rates in the United States versus the rates in several other countries. The United States, by far, showed the highest rates of distracted driving. This is yet another reason why 16 might just be too young for drivers to get their license. One leading cause of distracted driving today is the use of cell phones while driving. Also according to the CDC, about 31% of teenage drivers reported using their phones to send text messages or emails while driving. This means that approximately one-third of teenagers on the road admit to not having their full attention on the road while driving. This does not make for safe driving conditions for anyone, not just teenagers.
More recently, a survey conducted by the AAA found that many teens seem to be waiting longer before they get their licenses. In fact, in a 2013 survey, only 54% of eighteen year-olds reported as having their driver’s license. This result is unexpected, due to the fact that most teens seem to want to get their licenses as soon as possible. According to the survey the reasons that teens are waiting include: the high price of gas, the fact that most teens are still able to get around without driving, and the fact that they did not own a car to drive even if they wanted to. Whatever the reasons may be, less teenage drivers on the road is an overall positive thing. It might be time for more teens to hold off on getting their licenses.