Why Young Drivers Suck at Driving
When leaving the house to drive somewhere, one expects to come back safely. In fact, that is pretty much the goal of driving. Standing in the way of this is the risk of error, more often than not being that of other drivers.A lot of the time, young and inexperienced drivers are the culprits of such error.Combining this new found knowledge, we see that young drivers are more of a risk to the rest of the driving population than any other age group, and simply shouldn’t be driving.
Almost everywhere in the United States, someone by the age of 17 has already embarked on their first car ride without supervision. Because of this, almost every experienced driver has encountered one of these young drivers due to the low age restrictions for receiving a driver’s license in the country. Not only can one acquire their permit and eventually license at a young age, the requirements to receive one are far lesser than that of other countries. Having acquired my license at the age of 17, the ease of the process was shocking. The first step was to pass a written theory exam, to which the answers are widely available on the internet. Next, came having to spend $300 on a measly six hours of driving practice with an instructure. This however is not a necessary step to getting a license, instead it is only required for those wanting an early learner’s permit. Finally came the big day, the actual driving test which took a whopping five minutes to complete, going over three skills in a parking lot with an examinator who barely looked up from his paperwork. This of course was the case in New Jersey, the only state to conduct its practical examinations in parking lots, and not on the actual roads these new drivers will be travelling on.
Compare this quick and streamlined process to get everyone on the road at a young age to the rigorous testing and long list of requirements to receive one’s license in a country such as Germany, famous for being home to some of the best drivers of the world. There, students must first pass an eye examination, along with a first aid course in order to begin their theoretical learning. This must be done through a licensed school, in preparation for a two part theoretical exam. Upon completion of the theoretical exam, hopeful drivers must then complete thirty hours of road training in preparation for the practical exam. This exam, unlike the one in the United States, consists of driving on the Autobahn, the world’s fastest highway, driving at night, and finally driving in an urban environment. One mistake on any of these portions results in a failure, forcing further training and preparation for another take. When comparing these two standards, one must stop and think whether the youth in America is truly ready for the challenges of the road.
Taking this into account, the fact that AAA’s Research Brief titled “Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, United States, 2014 – 2015’s” opening statement states that “drivers ages 16-17 continue to have the highest rates of crash involvement, injuries to themselves and others and deaths of others in crashes in which they are involved” is unfortunately not at all surprising. Young drivers have posed and continue to pose a larger risk on the road than any other age group. Driving as most people know requires a large amount of focus, concentration, and mechanical ability to safely and properly operate a motor vehicle. The tasks required to safely drive are much more than simply getting into a car and going, which may be the kind of approach young drivers take. Whether it’s due to inexperience in split second decision making scenarios, or the need to impress others, the age group of drivers who have just acquired their license or permit statistically poses a larger threat to the general public.
Another major aspect behind the disproportionate accident statistics among young drivers is the biological component behind decision making. Critical thinking, and proper risk management are skills that develop over time. It is not something that is commonly found in younger people, although there are obviously exceptions. As a majority however, young adults do not possess the cerebral capacity and development in order to properly assess and react to stressful situations. In fact, authors Figner and Bernd, in their study of risky choices across different age groups, said that “risk taking increases when individuals reach puberty, peaks in adolescence and early adulthood, and decreases again during adulthood” showing that a lack of risk taking capacity related to young age clearly shows in the age group’s lack of driving abilities. With officials not taking into account the lack of development, and failing to conform to the standards set by other nations, the result we see is young drivers in the United States posing a danger to all with whom they share the roads.
Figner, B., Mackinlay, R., Wilkening, F., & Weber, E. (2009). Affective and Deliberative Processes in Risky Choice: Age Differences in Risk Taking in the Columbia Card Task. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35(3), 709–730. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014983
Tefft, B. (2020). Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, United States, 2014-2015. Retrieved 13 October 2020, from https://aaafoundation.org/rates-motor-vehicle-crashes-injuries-deaths-relation-driver-age-united-states-2014-2015/