Group Says States Should Raise the Driving Age

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, September 11, 2008

Group Says States Should Raise the Driving Age

Taking aim at a longstanding rite of passage for 16-year-olds, an influential auto safety group is calling on states to raise the age for getting a driver's license to 17 or even 18.

Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group funded by the auto insurance industry, acknowledged the idea is "a tough sell," but noted that car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers.

"The bottom line is that when we look at the research, raising the driving age saves lives," Lund said. He plans to present the proposal Tuesday at the annual conference of the Governors Highway Safety Association in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Not surprisingly, a lot of teens hate the idea.

Among other things, institute researchers have compiled decades worth of data from New Jersey, the only state that issues licenses at 17. Various studies have shown that the overall rate of teens killed in crashes in New Jersey has been consistently lower than in some nearby states.

Source: Associated Press

Given the fact that auto accidents are the number one cause of death among teenagers, raising the driving age would be a no-brainer. Yet, like so many other issues, it's not that simple. One of the big reasons that I think parents would oppose this move, is that by the time teens reach the mid-teens, moms and dads are ready to hang up their chauffeur's hat. Raising the driving age means another year of running their kids around. Another argument I've seen against raising the driving age is that it actually postpones the process of kids becoming responsible. As one Massachusetts mom (quoted in the article) said, "Do we really want our kids dependent upon parents for virtually everything until they go to college, can vote and serve their country?" Still, given the data from the study that raising the driving age will save lives, it seems reasonable to do so, despite the parental inconveniences and the potential for postponing another rite of passage into adulthood.

What's your opinion? Leave a comment here.

For more information about teen driving and how to keep kids safe, read my article on

Tips for Keeping Your Teen Driver Safe