New York Driving Age

Conor Borthwick, Staff Writer

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Right now, there are hundreds of kids around the world who sit in the cars of their older siblings or friends and wonder, “Why can’t I do this?” “Is this person who is hardly older or more mature than me more capable to drive?” While there are plenty of kids saying things like this, there are also several drivers who may think things like, “Is this driver twelve years old? There’s no way this person is even qualified to be on the roads!” No matter what side of the spectrum that you fall on, there is a large population of New Yorkers that disagree with some aspects of the state laws for the driving age. The question is, should the state age for receiving a permit and license be lowered or raised, or should it remain the same?

Currently, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are several states across the country where kids are eligible to receive their permit when they are only 14 years old. While this may seem absurd, it also seems equally crazy that you can’t receive a restricted license in New Jersey until the age of 17, which isn’t far off from New York’s, with the age of 16 and a half for a restricted license. While many kids sit and just accept the reality of the current ages, maybe they don’t have to. If there are several other states that allow kids to receive driving privileges at such a young age, what is preventing the same from happening in New York? In the state of Florida, anybody is eligible for a permit at the age of 15, a year earlier than in New York or New Jersey. This seems strange because Florida is a state with a high population, several cities, and a collection of busy roads similar to those of New York. There are also many statistics supporting that drivers of older ages cause more issues on the roads than younger ones. In 2016, there were 157 more fatal accidents among 17 year old drivers than 16 year old drivers and there were 162 more fatal accidents among 18 year old drivers than 17 year old drivers. According to sophomore, Granger Ottley, the driving age should surely be lowered. “Almost everyday my sister gives me a ride into school, which I appreciate very much, but I don’t understand why she should have more of a right to do so than I do. I feel like I’m at least as mature as her and would have good awareness on the road, if not better. I don’t think the age should be lowered too dramatically, but I’d like to be able to get my permit a little earlier than 16.” It may be a stretch to have the ages lowered, but there is no reason why people shouldn’t try.

     Despite the several arguments supporting the lowering of the driving age, there are also several that support the exact opposite. Florida may be an exception to this, but there a lot of other states that allow kids to have driving privileges at such a young age due to the lack of traffic and a low population. For example, states like North and South Dakota have very low populations and limited places to drive, and their minimum age to receive a permit is only 14  according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The lack of other cars on the roads make driving easier and safer for people from the Dakotas. Another argument helping debunk the amount of fatal accidents by age is that the older kids get, the more likely they are to drive. 17 year olds may get in many more accidents, but this is simply because there is a much larger amount of 17 year old drivers on the road than 16 year olds. Also, it doesn’t make much sense to say that beginner drivers are better at driving from the get-go.

    The statistics showing the number of fatal accidents may be factual, but it doesn’t add some very important information regarding the issue that would help someone understand how or why these accidents occurred. Sophomore, Malcolm Conley, thinks the current driving age should definitely not be lowered. He said, “I’ve been in cars with young people who have licenses, and a lot of them shouldn’t be on the roads even though they’re old enough. There’s no way that allowing younger kids on the roads would make things safe. There are already plenty of drivers who don’t deserve these privileges. The age should just stay the same, and if it doesn’t do that, then maybe it should even increase.”

It is clear that there is a lot of disagreement over this topic and it would be difficult to modify the driving ages in any way without dealing with lots of protest and anger.

Lowering or raising the minimum ages for driving privileges in New York both have their appeals, but there is always the chance that keeping the ages the same would be just as good. There is no way to tell whether or not there would be benefits from lowering or raising the ages, and perhaps it would be a good idea to try each out for a limited period of time to see the results. The state would hesitate to go through with this due to the chance of devastating results. Changing things up like this could make things smoother, but it could also end tragically. The following question is up to you: should the ages stay the same or should we try out the alternatives?

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New York Driving Age