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Finalist #4 Colin Dion

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Essay by: Colin Dion

Essay Subject: Teen drivers account for a disproportionate number of motor vehicle crashes. While the reasons for this are varied, some observers believe that raising the minimum driving age would help address this issue, while others believe it would simply make the riskiest drivers on the road a little bit older. With whom do you agree and why?

If your family member was hit and killed in a car crash are you really going to be worried about the age, race, or even gender of that person? If someone you love was killed or injured you would not care about any of that. You will follow the normal process of taking them to court and sue for damages. The defendant’s age will not change a single aspect.

Now that brings us to our main topic. Raising the driving age will have little to no affect on the amount of motor vehicle crashes. With the newly gained freedom, no matter the age, they will have to learn the rules of the road. Psychology suggests the younger you are the more susceptible you are to learning new things. That is why if you decide when you are 40 to try to learn Spanish, it would be more challenging to encode the information. Although this is an extreme example, being older does not always mean you will learn faster, make smarter decisions, or even follow all the rules. It could actually make learning the rules of driving more challenging. Not to mention, whatever their age, they need to learn how to drive in poor weather. That is not a skill that is teachable but obtained through practice. They must learn how to handle turns, other drivers, and the elements.

Also, a common saying is, “Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile”. This can be applied to all age groups, but more importantly, this situation. If the newly licenced person is 17 or 27 the risk factor of a fatal crash has no correlation. New drivers however, often think they are invincible, will not crash, and drive the speed they want. No one should ever assume any of those. Unfortunately, new drivers may believe this until they learn differently. What the opposition overlooked was sometimes it is not the new driver’s fault. For example, there was a case in Oklahoma where a driver was following the speed limit. When out of nowhere, a driver of the age of 44 smashed into the back of the teen. Although they both escaped with minor bumps and scratches, both cars were totaled, and this teen that people are fighting to get their licences revoked, was obeying the laws. What if they increased the minimum driving age, now this same 44 year old will do the exact same thing but to another, older, person. Again taking teens off the road will not solve the problem.

The only correlation with teens and crashes are due to the fact teens dominate the road. Teenagers are always going somewhere to do something. Not as many older drivers are going to see a movie on a Tuesday night or get together to study for exams. Obviously the rate of crashes with teenagers will go up because the ratio of teens on the road is so high. Let us say on any given night there are three teen drivers for every car out there. Obviously It is statistically significant that if there was a crash a teen would be involved.

Furthermore, new drivers most likely will not go out and buy a new car from the dealer. Statistics show that second hand owners are more likely to get into a crash than a first hand owner. So the risk factor of a used car is increased.

Lastly, if we increase the age, college students will be the first to get their license. With minimal time to take drivers education due to a busy college schedule, their minds will not be fully invested in driving. This could lead to an increase in accidents as a whole. Yes, you solve the teen problem, but now you put the same problem on an older group of participants.

Crashes are an unfortunate formality of driving and a consequence we can not simply vanquish. Maintain the driving age, and trust that drivers of all ages will make their best efforts to be safe.

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