Getting a driver's license at age 16 is considered to be a right of passage for American teenagers in many states. Each state has different laws regarding minimum age for driving unsupervised. The majority of states require drivers to be 16 or 16 and a half. States like New Jersey require drivers to be 17, while drivers in Montana or Idaho need only be 15. There are several pros & cons of driving at the age of 16 or for any young age.
Pro: Increased Independence
Prior to getting their driver's license, teenagers must rely on their parents or older siblings to drive them to school, work, sporting events or social activities. While most parents don't mind driving their kids around from time to time, constantly chauffeuring teens and coordinating rides can become a hassle for busy parents. When teens get their driver's license, they can be more independent from their parents and take care of their own rides.
Cons: Lack of Experience
For young drivers, one of the greatest dangers facing them on the road is their lack of experience. Because they have only been driving for a short time, teen drivers could be faced with challenging or dangerous situations on a daily basis that they may not know how to respond to safely. According to an article by the New York Daily News in 2008, the leading cause of death of teenagers is car crashes.
Pro: More Time to Gain Experience
While it is dangerous to put young drivers on the road who lack experience, the only way they'll gain experience is to be out driving. The International Debate Education Association website argues that even if the driving age were raised to 17 or 18, teens may still be dangerous drivers because they would still be inexperienced. To counter this, many states have long probationary periods where teen drivers must drive with an adult for a certain amount of hours to practice driving before they receive their full license. Some states also have a curfew where teens under 18 cannot be out past a certain time of night, usually midnight.
Pro: Increased Responsibility
While many feel that 16 is too young for teenagers to be driving due to immaturity or lack of experience, driving at a young age can increase responsibility. Teens with a driver's license must learn quickly to look out for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them. Whether they have their own car or borrow the family car, teens must also learn to be responsible for its care or face the consequences. While driving at age 16 is considered a right of passage, teens must know that their privilege to drive can easily be taken away by parents or law enforcement for unsafe driving.