Should We Raise the Legal Driving Age?

In the United States, the legal driving age for most states is 16. This is somewhat unusual when compared to other developed countries. In Europe,  the average minimum driving age is 18. Recent debates have focused on whether the driving age should be increased in the US. 

Why Raising the Minimum Driving Age Is a Good Idea

The decision of whether or not to raise the driving age is complex, with no easy answers. Valuable safety and economic considerations need to be considered before making a final decision.

Safety Concerns

The most common arguments for raising the driving age are based on safety concerns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teenage deaths in the US. In 2020, over 6,700 teens between the ages of 15 and 24 were killed in car accidents.

Several factors contribute to this high rate. For one thing, teen drivers are more likely to underestimate or misjudge hazardous situations. They’re also more likely to speed or engage in other risky behaviors like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Some people argue that raising the driving age would help to reduce these accidents by keeping inexperienced drivers off the road for longer. Others point out that graduated licensing programs – which place restrictions on newly licensed drivers – effectively reduce teenage accidents by helping teens develop adequate driving skills.

Economic Considerations

There are also economic considerations to take into account. In many parts of the country, a driver’s license is essential to get a job. For teenagers from low-income families who may not have access to public transportation, being able to drive is often necessary for gainful employment.

Moreover, some people argue that fatal crashes are high among those ages 16 to 17 since they are new to driving. Delaying their driving experience doesn’t guarantee that accidents will be reduced.  

Ultimately, it’s up to each state to decide what is best for its residents and for parents to guide their teenage drivers on adequately using their driving privileges.

Keeping Teenage Drivers Safe

As any parent of a teenage driver knows, keeping them safe on the road can be a challenge. To help keep teenage drivers safe, a few restrictions should be put in place.

Nighttime Driving Restrictions

Teen drivers should have curfews in place to ensure they are not driving late at night. One-third of motor vehicle crashes among those ages 16 to 17 since they are new to driving occur from 9 pm to 6 am. Several states have created curfews that prohibit teenage drivers from driving at night. 

Number Of Passengers

Having friends in the car can cause your child to lose focus on the road and may even be tempted to try daring things to show off to their friends. Reducing the number of unrelated passengers teens can have in the car will reduce distractions.


Cell phones should be kept away while they are driving. They are the number one cause of distractions due to text messages or phone calls. Some teens will try to use their phones on the sly to avoid traffic violations that clearly prohibit distracted driving.

Phases Of Licensing

There are different licenses teens can get connected to their driving education. There’s the learner license for teens just beginning and a restricted license for those who still need hours of practice driving, including a few hours of night driving.

Before they get their unrestricted license, they should display proficiency in understanding traffic laws and defensive driving skills.

What Parents Can Do

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to educate your teen about driving safety basics beyond what driving laws and driver licensing programs provide. Hours of practice driving with you by their side will help them gain the confidence and skills necessary to become safe drivers.

If they commit any traffic or rules violation, suspension of driving privileges should be implemented. This will teach them responsible and cause them to respect driving regulations.

It takes more than a valid driver’s license to become a safe driver. First-time drivers should be guided by their parents until they are confident that they have become responsible people with sufficient wheel experience.

Learn how you can keep your teens safe through our blogs at Be Safe.