The Patriot Press

Driving at 16— a gamble at best

Nathan Jackson, Assistant Opinion Editor

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Despite what the headline says, I love driving. The ability to get McDonald’s at three on a Thursday morning is both liberating and strangely addictive. And as much as I love my 3AM McD’s, I have to admit that driving at 16 is a fairly idiotic idea.
You’ve probably heard the facts before: driving is leading cause of death for teens. Teens’ prefrontal cortexes aren’t fully developed, which therefore leads to an inability to make informed decisions quickly. That inability can be the difference between life and death. Insurance for teens skyrockets because of the risks of teens driving is super high. These are all, well, arguments against teens driving. Yet parents send their kids away daily, watching them do (probably) the most dangerous thing they’ve ever done: drive. Yet they (and we) are okay with it. What gives?
Despite the clear pros of teens not driving, the mere suggestion of waiting to drive sends people into a frenzy. Why not? Driving is seen as both a rite of passage and a milestone here in the US. Many teens hope for a car the morning of their sixteenth birthday.
I get that people want to drive as soon as they can. Driving offers a freedom that none of us have experienced up until this point in our lives. But the risks outweigh the rewards by miles. Risking our (and others’) lives just so we can get McDonald’s at 3AM is both pointless and foolish. I understand that everything we do in life carries some degree of risk, but driving is on a whole other level. Choking on soup has nothing on giving someone with questionable decision-making abilities a one-ton behemoth to barrell down the highway at 60 miles per hour.
Driving by yourself is obviously a sign of independence. But from fatal accidents to increased carbon pollution, there aren’t any decent arguments for teenage driving apart from “independence’s sake.” Driving is a concept that should be saved for those who know how to make decisions on the fly without any biological impediment, for both the sake of themselves and others.

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Driving at 16— a gamble at best