Driving age under close scrutiny

By Megan Bernatavitz
September 25, 2008

Shannon Keough

Imagine driving down Interstate 476 thinking you are going to a traditional Philly dinner at Pat’s Steaks, when everything changes. With hardly any traffic and listening to music with friends in the car, another vehicle smashes into the back of you.

Your car runs off the side of the road and the other car pulls up behind you to see the damage. Of course this happens all the time, but when the person who hits you gets out of the car they look like they cannot be older than 12.

This is something that Lauren Galonski, junior psychology major, did not have to imagine, but experienced first hand. The person who hit her was actually not much older than he looked. He was only 16 and had not had his license for more than six weeks.

These kinds of incidents make police officers not only in Pennsylvania but across the United States want to raise the driving age.

Jason Arce, who majored in criminal justice at Delaware Valley College, now a police cadet in the Delaware Valley, said, “It’s essential for the driving age to be made higher. Accidents are occurring more frequently due to the younger population of drivers. If something does not happen about this soon, things are only going to get worse.”

Young drivers are 10 times more likely of getting in an accident than 30-59 year olds. With that being said, there are over 5 thousand teenagers who die every year due to car accidents in which they are the drivers.

Insurance companies are also trying to get the driving age raised and until that happens the price to insure a teenage driver is rising greatly.

“These kinds of accidents are not going to stop unless the government does something about the driving age. The accident could have been so much worse and I was lucky that it wasn’t,” Galonski said.

While some want the law to be changed, adolescents are not agreeing with what the government is trying to do. In a phone interview with Eliza Hunt, 14 of San Carlos, Calif., said, “I do not agree with what they are trying to do. Sixteen is definitely old enough to drive and nobody should try to change that. I also think that if more people were responsible this would not be an issue.”

The government is now trying to compromise with 16 and 17-year-olds in order to make the roads safer. Arce said, “The teens that are getting their driving license should have a certain grade point average, take a driving course and drive a minimum of certain hours before even getting considered for their license.”

In a phone interview with Katherine Geppert, 15 of Cleveland, Ohio, said, “Parents need to take a stand in this situation. They need to either be out helping their children become responsible drivers or not let them drive at all. They should restrict the hours their children are driving and who is in the car with them. Parents need to be clear about where the children are and are not allowed to drive, when this happens the driving age will no longer be an issue.”

Arce said, “Adolescents need to understand the responsibility that they are putting on not only themselves, but everyone else on the road and until that happens they should not be able to have a license in their hand.”

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Megan Bernatavitz

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