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Driving Responsibliy - License to Drive!

In the United States, one of the biggest responsibilities a young person will take on involves obtaining a license to drive. Of course, there are persons who are older and didn't choose to get a license earlier in life or people who moved from a country or city where they used public transportation who get their license at any age, but it's primarily something 16-year-olds do.

Should the legal driving age be raised?

There is some controversy about the age at which people can become licensed to drive. If the driving age was raised to 18 in the United States, what would the impact be? There would be fewer crashes in total, and the problem of texting while driving could be approached with two more years to educate future drivers about the hazards.

The age of 16 isn't old enough to vote, join the military, purchase cigarettes, legally sign many contracts, or in most states, date a 19-year-old. Yet, it's old enough to get behind the wheel of a fast-moving hunk of steel being guided by the same person not trusted in any of the other categories mentioned. There's something fundamentally wrong with the way personal responsibility is viewed when it comes to driving. Whether the driving age is raised or not, there needs to be more thorough driver education with tougher tests.

Elderly driving

At the other end of the driving experience are persons who may have operated dozens of different vehicles over countless miles of road while driving for decades, but have lost their edge. A condition may inhibit their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. They, if they are able to make the determination, need to be responsible and admit it might be time to hang up the keys.

If an elderly driver no longer able to drive safely either doesn't recognize the situation or refuses to acknowledge it, others need to step up. Good friends and relatives need to speak to the driver to explain that driving themselves around town may no longer be an option. State licensing agencies need to institute periodic testing to ensure safer driving. One idea might be to test all drivers more thoroughly from time-to-time.

Driving impaired

One of the most irresponsible things a person can do with their driver's license is to take to the wheel when impaired. it doesn't matter if the impairment comes from alcohol, illegal drugs, or a prescription the person is taking. Any substance which makes a person less than 100 percent when driving needs to be thought of as carrying the same harmful potential.

The act of driving impaired can bring what are seen as stiff penalties, but are they severe enough? There's an argument to be made for a person found to be driving substantially impaired losing their driving privilege permanently.

Using phone and texting

A person caught up in a conversation on a cell phone or texting can be just as dangerous as someone driving impaired by a substance. Many states have adopted laws addressing talking or texting while driving, but even where it's illegal it still is rampant. Many drivers feel the law is a hindrance, just meaning they have to look for a police officer while they are texting to make sure they don't get caught.

That raises the danger even more. Not only is the driver distracted by the text messaging they are engaged in, but their mind is partially occupied by their scanning around looking for law enforcement.

Ultimate responsibility with a license to drive with individual

Regardless of what laws are in place or changed in the future, the ultimate responsibility that goes with obtaining a license to drive lies with the person taking the wheel. At an early age children should be taught that once they are eligible, they will be taking on a burden to be a driver who takes the privilege seriously and understands the implications of ignoring safety.

When cars crash it's called an accident, but in reality almost all crashes are the result of a bad decision by one or more drivers. Driving too fast or recklessly, ignoring safety warnings, unable to react appropriately to road hazards, or driving with some level of impairment.

If every driver on the road took full responsibility for their actions and drove with that foremost in their minds, the only vehicle wrecks we would hear about would truly be accidents. They would be few and far between. In addition to the obvious benefits, having less crashes would also decrease insurance and medical costs for all of society.

Getting a license to drive is seen as a rite of passage. In addition, we need to instill in persons taking the step that the full implications and ramifications of their actions behind the wheel.

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