Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Should driving age be raised to 17 or 18?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been floating the idea of postponing the minimum driving age from 16 (common now) to at least 17 or 18, to save lives. The position paper (“put off driver licensure to save lives”) is available at this link, dated Sept. 9.

I can recall proposals like this as far back as the 1960s. In the spring of 1966, I remember taking organ lessons from a Peabody student, who was 18 at the time, who commuted from Baltimore repeatedly. I recall seeing the proposal then, when some people wanted to put off the licensure until 21. When I went to graduate school at the University of Kansas then, some people talked about learning to drive on farms or ranches at around age 12.

This report also reminds me of a parallel problem: learning to use the Internet responsibly. We are learning quickly the dangers of turning teenagers loose on blogs and social networking sites when they have no grasp of libel, copyright, or “reputation” issues.

I still recall that TheWB Smallville show depicts the young Clark Kent at the official age of 14 already driving trucks. But, after all, he is a farm boy.

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