Getting Behind That Wheel


There’s a reason why turning sixteen is called Sweet 16. For most, it’s all about getting behind that wheel. Driving is seen as a dream for most, but also a nightmare for some. For me personally, driving was a scary step forward, and I didn’t fully start to drive by myself until my senior year because of fear.


This poses a question: is it the best idea to have this expectation of driving on the road at 16?


It depends on who you ask, but I believe that teenagers so young shouldn’t be expected to do something that monumental if they choose not to.


Teenagers deal with enough stress as it is at school. According to the American Psychological Association, teen stress rivals adult stress levels, stating that teens rate a 5.8 and adults a 5.1 on a 10 point scale.


This statistic demonstrates that teens are experiencing just as much stress as an adult would. And that’s just on a school level.


However, some may argue that a 16-year-old deserves this freedom. With kids possibly getting new jobs the need to drive is there.


Some states, such as New Jersey, have their driving age at 17, but other states have it at 14, like South Dakota. The age of driving varies throughout the country.


Is it the best idea for a 16-year-old to be driving?


At 16, the brain isn’t fully developed. According to the Allstate Blog, the prefrontal cortex doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25.


The prefrontal cortex is what helps a person make a judgement, and controls a person’s emotions. High levels of hormones in a teenager have shown to increase their likelihood of seeking dangerous behavior on the roads.


However, not all teenagers are the same. Some show more responsibility than others.


Still, teen crash rates are high. According to the Insurance Journal, which examined a study named Journal of Adolescent Health, teenagers are more likely to get in a crash in the first 3 months of having their driver’s license.


Accidents happen in more favorable conditions such as during the day and dry roads. This is because once teens get their license and feel more comfortable, they’re less aware of their road surroundings.


Personally, my first accident made me devastated. I hit a neighbor’s car on Halloween night. Nobody was hurt, but it was in favorable conditions.


Some teens feel responsible enough to get behind that wheel, but the risks are still existent. People have the freedom to make their own decisions about driving, as long as they are following the law, with Kentucky’s driving age being 16.


Still, a solution to this issue can be to raise the driving age to 18, the age expected to be an adult. Whatever the ultimate solution may be, making the age at 18 would make these new adults feel more responsible, and more ready for the monumental event of driving since they’re already considered an adult.