Let’s raise the driving age to lower the death rates



The danger of teenagers behind the wheel is far too great to justify a legal driving age of 14-years-old.

Delaney Gramlick, Staff Writer

South Dakota allows teenagers to begin driving at 14-years-old, which happens to be the lowest age in the nation for legal drivers, and it’s the lowest in the nation for a reason: teenage driving is dangerous. 

According to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, as long as the correct documents are obtained, 14-year-olds in South Dakota are able to apply to get their drivers’ licenses. Putting such young kids behind the wheel presents a multitude of different issues. At such a young age, risk factors like distracted driving, under-preparation and underestimating dangerous scenarios are all magnified. 14-year-olds can barely be trusted to finish their homework on time, so putting them in charge of a massive vehicle capable of all sorts of destruction seems like a terrible idea. 

According to consumerreports.org, 16 and 17-year-old drivers pose almost nine times the risk of crashing than that of middle-aged drivers. Even at two to three years older than 14, the South Dakota minimum driving age, teenage drivers have a substantially higher risk of crashing than older drivers.

Driver’s education is not required in South Dakota, though it is “strongly recommended.” Instead, the state relies on parents to teach their children how to operate deadly vehicles. This lack of education and preparation for South Dakota’s young drivers is evident: Wallethub.com ranked South Dakota the 48th worst state in the nation for teenage drivers on the basis of safety, economic environment and driving laws. A combination of young drivers, inadequate instruction and lenient laws have deemed South Dakota one of the worst states for teenage driving. 

 In a nation where the leading cause of death for teenagers is motor vehicle accidents, it seems ridiculous to have such young drivers. Instead of focusing energy on putting barely-teenagers behind the wheel, South Dakota needs to focus on improving public transportation, regulating strict rules for teenage drivers, increasing the intensity of the process to obtain a license and, of course, raising the minimum driving age to at least 16-years-old. Waiting a couple of extra years to drive won’t kill anyone, but teenage drivers might.