Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New York Driving Age – Too Young?

January 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, Weekly Columns

( Technically speaking, the driving age in New York state is the same as it’s always been, sixteen years old. However, there are some laws in place regarding “junior” and “senior” licenses. When you were growing up you probably remember the process going from permit to license, and that was that, that was the last license you’d need until the expiration date hits. A junior license has more privileges to it than a permit, but it’s not quite a full senior license. Of course, you can drive at a younger age, too, if you get a provisional license. In the state of New York, you can pick up a provisional license if you meet certain criteria.

There are states where you can drive before you hit fifteen, too. Alaska and Arkansas both let you get your learner’s permit at fourteen. Any younger than that, and it seems that the law across the country is pretty consistent: It’s only legal for a thirteen-year-old to drive if he can manage to not get caught!

A lot of people worry that fifteen and even sixteen are too young to drive. If we’re being fair, it needs to be taken on a case by case basis, but it’s a good point to bring up. When you’re fifteen, there’s a lot that you just shouldn’t be trusted with. You’re still learning, your brain is still developing in some key areas, and you’re especially bad at calculating risk at this age. This is one of the reasons why kids aren’t allowed to drink. It’s partly because your brain is still developing, and alcohol can affect that process, but also, a fifteen-year-old really doesn’t know when he’s had enough… A twenty-one-year-old, or a fifty-year-old might not, either, but part of being a parent is protecting your kids from themselves. A thirty-year-old who doesn’t mind the hangover can make his own decisions.

There is also the question of how we’re going to decide which teenagers should be allowed to drive in the first place. Once a teenager has caused a serious accident or driven while intoxicated, they get their privileges taken away for a good long while. But should we really have to wait for that to happen before deciding that a teen is unfit to be trusted behind the wheel of an automobile?

One solution might be stricter testing and more thorough education for teens. You could put more restrictions on their junior licenses, and then ease off on those restrictions once they pass an online defensive driving course NY has to offer. There are already certain NY driving laws in place regarding curfews for teen drivers and how many passengers a teen driver can have in their car at a time. And of course, the permit system does a good job of making sure that a teen spends a lot of time with a parent in the car before they’re allowed to take the car out on their own.

There are a lot of regulations in place to try and make it safer for teens to drive, but as with any rules or laws, the regulations don’t always work. Rather than introducing tighter restrictions, it might be better to change the culture surrounding teen driving. Incentivize a teen to want to do better with lower insurance and fewer restrictions on their license. That might go a lot farther than threatening a teen with punishment for their mistakes or upping the minimum driving age.

Staff Writer; Craig Ford

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